“…..She’s going for the cookbook.
Oh, boy, is that the Buckle page? And blueberries on the counter?
She’s getting out the cinnamon….
~Mental cartwheel here~
Coffee cake was a rare thing chez Reid long ago. With 6 growing kids and 2 adults in the house, no such treat stood a chance for more than the space of a few breaths. But once in a great while, with a pint of blueberries safely tucked into the refrigerator for breakfast cereal and a spare pint on the counter, the stars aligned and we knew without a doubt that blueberry buckle was in the works. It was served as dessert more often than at breakfast, because mornings were pretty complicated. And as any baking hound knows, a dish like Blueberry Buckle is at its apex when ever-so-slightly still warm.
I loved to watch mom carefully wash and sort through the berries, cleaning off stubborn stems and culling any wrinkled or mashed up berries. The big yellow pyrex bowl and the hand mixer came out of the cabinets, and I marveled once again at the transformation of butter and sugar turning from a crumbly, sandy combination into a smooth mass.
I’d often be given the task of mixing the streusel by hand, a gritty but fragrant chore as the cinnamon dispersed through crumbly mixture. I wasn't (and am not) above licking my fingers afterward.
A variant of this recipe was the first I ever submitted to King Arthur Flour; I’ve always liked lemon and nutmeg with blueberries, and I doctored the streusel with both and was published for the first time in The Baking Sheet.
Seeing sour cherries in my local produce store for their fleeting moment of glory got me to thinking about another riff on my beloved buckle. “Why not cherries?” I thought. Cherries and cinnamon and a bit of almond in the streusel.
As with most recipes I come up with, I tasted it in my head and was compelled to make it happen for real. In the course of assembling this one I realized all of my almond flour had been recently sacrificed to the macaron gods. Some freezer spelunking unearthed the last little bit of some toasted almond flour, and I figured if almond flavor was part of the equation, there was no point in being shy.
I had a guy at the house rebuilding the woodstove with his daughter in tow for a helper. Across the driveway my farmer neighbor was tedding and beginning to bale the hayfield. It seemed safe to have warm cherry buckle in the house, since there were people around to hand it to.
And that’s how the Blueberry Buckle’s descendant was born.
Cherry Buckle With Almond Streusel
If your sour cherries are frozen it’s worth tossing them with the cinnamon, sugar, and flour and microwaving them to 2 minutes with a stir halfway through to thaw them out. If they go into the oven frozen, the bake time is significantly prolonged and the bottom may be overdone by the time the streusel is cooked.
¾ cup (5 ½ ounces, 156g) sugar
¾ cup (3 ounces, 85g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
or ¼ cup toasted almond flour and ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 85g) soft unsalted butter
2 cups (10 ounces) pitted sour cherries
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce, 25g) sugar
2 teaspoons Instant ClearJel or 4 teaspoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
¾ cup (5 ½ ounces, 156g) sugar
¼ cup (2 ounces, 53g) unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 cups (8 ½ ounces, 241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or mace (optional)
½ cup (4 ounces, 113g) milk
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9” square baking pan
For the streusel: Whisk together the sugar, flour(s), cinnamon, and salt. Work in the butter until crumbs form; set aside.
For the filling: Place the cherries in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, sugar, and Instant ClearJel or flour. Sprinkle over the cherries and stir to coat them. Set aside.
For the batter: In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Scrape the bowl and add half of the flour, the baking powder, salt, and cardamom or mace, if using. Beat to combine, then mix in the milk and the remaining flour. Beat at medium speed for 30 seconds until fluffy.
To assemble: Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Top with the filling and spread to cover evenly. Sprinkle the streusel over the cherry filling.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes before serving.