If you love coffee cake, let me introduce you to its fruit-filled friend, the buckle — a slightly sweet breakfast cake that’s the ideal vehicle for summer fruit. Making it is easy (and fun!): Fold fresh, in-season blueberries into a thick vanilla batter, then top with even more blueberries and a buttery streusel. After baking, drizzle on a creamy lemon glaze, which adds brightness to every single bite.
What’s the Difference Between a Buckle and a Coffee Cake?
Before snacking cakes became common culinary nomenclature, buckles were the simple cakes found on kitchen counters. The old-fashioned sweet is similar to coffee cake because it’s a single-layer cake served for breakfast or brunch. The addition of fruit, especially blueberries, is what sets a buckle apart from a common coffee cake.
A buckle batter is similar to a traditional vanilla cake batter — butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla — but you’ll use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. The low protein content and fine texture of cake flour gives the buckle a soft and pillowy structure. You’ll also use just 1/2 cup of milk in the batter, which gives the batter the thick consistency needed to suspend the fresh blueberries throughout the cake. Transfer the batter to the pan, then scatter the remaining berries on top and cover with the streusel topping.
Lemon is blueberry’s BFF, so it’s only natural to include the sunny citrus here. Rub the fragrant zest into the streusel sugar to infuse the sweet stuff with bright and lemony flavor, then save the zested lemon so you can use the juice in the glaze. As it bakes, the cake will appear to buckle as the berries settle into the cake and the sweet, buttery streusel becomes a crunchy topping.
The Best Blueberries for Buckles
Fruit is the star of this breakfast bake, so you’ll want to use the freshest summer blueberries you can find at the farmers market or the grocery store. You’ll need 2 cups (or 12 ounces) to make this buckle.
Serving Your Blueberry Buckle
There’s no sense in letting a zested lemon go to waste! You’ll mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar into a thin citrus glaze, which soaks into the cake and adds pops of punchy lemon flavor that brings out the best in the blueberries.
This buckle is baked in a simple 8-inch square baking pan — the perfect size for a brunch spread or for nibbling on over the course of the weekend. Pair it with more fruit (or something savory, like eggs and bacon), and don’t forget the mugs of hot coffee.
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How to Make a Classic Blueberry Buckle
YieldServes 9 to 12
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes to 45 minutes
For the buckle:
- 6 tablespoons
(3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 cups
- 2 teaspoons
- 1/2 teaspoon
- 3/4 cup
- 2 teaspoons
- 1/2 cup
whole or 2 % milk
- 2 cups
fresh blueberries (about 12 ounces), divided
For the streusel topping and optional glaze:
- 4 tablespoons
(1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup
- 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/2 cup
powdered sugar (optional)
Cut butter into cubes and prepare the baking pan. Cut 6 tablespoons unsalted butter into small cubes, then place in a stand mixer and let sit at room temperature to soften, about 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer.) Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, then line with a parchment paper sling so that it hangs off two sides. Prepare the streusel.
Melt the butter for the streusel. Microwave 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted, about 40 seconds total.
Zest the lemon and rub into the sugar for the streusel. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Reserve the zested lemon for the icing. Place the zest and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a medium bowl, and rub together with your fingers until very fragrant and the consistency of wet sand.
Make the streusel. Add 1/2 cup cake flour and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the lemon sugar and stir with a spatula until combined. Add the melted butter and stir until no flour remains and the mixture is crumbly. Freeze or refrigerate until chilled, 10 to 15 minutes.
Mix the dry ingredients. Place 2 1/4 cups cake flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar to the stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until lightened in color, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Make the buckle batter. With the mixer on low speed, beat in 2 large eggs one at a time, waiting until the first is completely incorporated before adding the second. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add half of the flour mixture and beat until mostly incorporated. Add 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Return the mixer to low speed, add the remaining flour mixture, and mix until just combined. (The dough will be thick, so if using a hand mixer, mix in the remaining flour mixture by hand with a sturdy spatula.)
Fold in the blueberries. Add 1 cup of the blueberries and fold in by hand with a rubber spatula.
Transfer to pan and add blueberries.Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup blueberries evenly onto the batter.
Top with streusel. Crumble the chilled streusel in large pieces evenly over the top.
Bake the buckle. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool the buckle. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Grasping the parchment paper, remove the cake from the pan to the wire rack and let cool completely. Prepare the glaze, if desired.
Make the lemon glaze. Juice the reserved lemon (about 2 tablespoons). Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and stir with a spatula until smooth. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons more lemon juice until the glaze is a pourable consistency.
Drizzle glaze over buckle and serve. Drizzle the cooled blueberry buckle with the lemon glaze. Let sit until the glaze sets, about 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Storage: Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 2 days.