The Child is a teaching assistant at swim class three mornings a week this summer, but the rest of the time, she’s home. Mostly, she’s enjoying a 1970s-style summer, which consists of watching TV and eating whenever she’s hungry.
Teenagers are always hungry.
People who swim burn a lot of calories, which makes them hungry.
I’m not sure a word exists that can adequately capture the extent of The Child’s need for food.
Since I’m working during the day, and the only store within walking distance of our house is a 7-11, which has its culinary limitations, The Child begins to avail herself of the kitchen. At first, this involves googling recipes on her iPhone, which doesn’t turn out half badly when she makes a pasta dish that turns out to be Marcella Hazan’s Spaghetti Aio e Oio. She discovers some blackberries in the freezer – the last of the bunch I picked and froze last August – and makes muffins using The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook‘s recipe for blueberry muffins, but the substitution doesn’t really work out. Undeterred, she sets out to make a rich chocolate cake, which breaks her heart when it breaks into two pieces on being removed from the pan, and breaks mine by requiring two hours of baking on an 82 degree day in a house with no air conditioning.
I don’t want to discourage her newfound love of cooking, and I’ve learned in the past not to offer advice, because she typically replies with, I already know that, I saw a youtube video about it. Suddenly, though, she’s asking questions and listening to my replies. She complains about how hard it is to peel garlic, and I show her how to smash the skins off using the flat side of a knife. When the cake breaks into pieces, she calms down quickly when I explain that no one will ever know what it looks like once it’s frosted, and she takes my advice and simply pushes the two pieces together and frosts them into one.
The only real problem we have is that I can barely get into my own kitchen, and when I do, I find it has been re-organized in a way that may be logical, even improved – but that doesn’t help me find anything where I expect to find it.
I do manage to get into the kitchen on Friday night, and even though it’s a scorcher (by Seattle standards), I am determined to bake something with blueberries, which The Child recently announced she doesn’t really like when they’re fresh, which would have been a handy thing to know before I went to Costco. As it stands, I have a refrigerator full of fresh blueberries, which, to be honest, aren’t really my thing, either. So I bake them, in spite of the heat, into a blueberry buckle, a recipe that popped up on my Facebook feed, courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine.
The recipe says that a buckle is like a “glorified blueberry muffin,” and then goes on to show pictures of several individual sized muffins, which a number of readers complain is misleading. But the definition of buckle is a single-layer cake with a streusel topping, which gives it a “buckled” appearance, and if that is what you’re expecting, well, that is what you get – and it may be the best one you’ll ever eat.
The cake is satisfying, nearly decadent, with butter- and cream-rich batter that is heavily studded with blueberries. The streusel crisps magically and forms a crisp, cinnamon layer that plays perfectly against the moist cake below.
You won’t mind when the smell of the baking buckle fills up your house, even in the summer heat, I promise you.
We took the buckle with us on Saturday, when we had an early start to a day of boating: We were invited along on a trip to Blake Island with the Feisty Girl’s new owner. We hadn’t seen her for a month, and in that time, she had made her new home joyfully on the boat. She jumped with delight when she saw us and the Red Dog, and spent the day showing us what a confident and well-behaved girl she’s growing into. She did sit and snuggle with me for a bit, and when I had a piece of the buckle, she gladly helped herself to a large bite of it, right out of my hand.
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 pound fresh (or frozen, thawed) blueberries
- Whisk sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with your fingers until mixture comes together in large clumps; set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a nine-inch springform pan. Whisk baking powder, salt, and 1½ cups flour in a medium bowl.
- Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat sugar and ¼ cup butter until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla just to combine, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, then cream; mix just to combine. Gently fold in blueberries. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and place pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Evenly sprinkle topping over.
- Bake buckle until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 80–90 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool before unmolding and serving.