“Advice from a blueberry: Be well-rounded. Soak up the sun. Find beauty in small things. Live a fruitful life. Be a good pick. It’s OK to be a little blue. Make sweet memories!”—Ilan Shamir
“Mom, why do you only make Blueberry Buckle for Christmas Brunch or when we have overnight company? Why can’t you make it more often . . .like when I come home this weekend?”
I was talking with my daughter, Madelyn, on the phone. She was coming home for a long weekend break from college this past fall. Her point was valid, I conceded, I did save Blueberry Buckle for special occasions. In the end, I agreed to make it this delectable breakfast treat more often, including the weekend when she came home.
My husband, John, and I first discovered Blueberry Buckle in the early nineties when we frequently traveled to Staunton, VA, either as a weekend getaway, or as overnight stop on the way to or from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In Staunton, we most often stayed in a bed and breakfast called, The Kenwood, and owned by the late Ed and Liz Kennedy.
Ed and Liz were complimentary pair. Ed, as best I recall, was scientist who retired from Corning. He was widely traveled, well read, and collector of nonfiction magazines such as the Smithsonian, American Heritage, and National Geographic to name a few. Happy to talk about nearly any given subject or offer advice for nearby historical sites, hiking trails, or scenic sites, Ed played the perfect gregarious host.
Meanwhile, Liz, a retired nurse who spent her life working in inner-city Boston hospitals, was more reserved. She was happy to remain behind the scenes cooking breakfast, knitting, or watching baseball. That said, John and I visited their B & B so often, that over the years, Liz warmed to John and me, and often talked with us as much as Ed.
It was Liz who gave me this recipe for Blueberry Buckle. She preferred baking recipes like Blueberry Buckle that could be made ahead, cut into individual servings, and frozen. Then, she could take the amount needed the night before to thaw, and warm them in the morning. She served often served blueberry buckle with some form of protein, a fresh bowl of seasonal mixed fruit, and the customers’ choices of juices, coffees, and/or teas.
I feel privileged to have this recipe because it was Liz’s policy to not share her recipes with customers at least not when they first began their business—and, we were their very first customers (but that is a different story for another day.) In fact, because we were frequent guests of their establishment, Liz would often come out after breakfast, sit down with us, and would talk for hours if we let her.
We enjoyed knowing Ed and Liz. We considered them friends. They were special people, and I think of them each time I make this recipe. Sharing recipes, such as this, is one of the reasons we love to travel—getting to know people from different geographic locations and experiencing “their” foods that we would have otherwise never before experienced.
While the recipe I share with you is mostly true to Liz’s original version, I have made a few minor adjustments. First, and most obvious, I replaced regular all-purpose flour with a gluten-free version. If you do not need a gluten-free version, then by all means, use your favorite flour. Additionally, Liz did not use orange extract—it is a “trick” I learned from other recipes with blueberries. Thus, feel free to leave it out or replace it with another favorite extract. (I have even read Blueberry Buckle recipes that use lemon zest instead of any extract.) Finally, feel to use other types of berries, shredded apples, or even rhubarb in place of blueberries—you may then want to play with various additions to the cake batter, such as cinnamon, vanilla extract, etc.
From my home to yours, I wish you an abundance of happy, healthy, and homemade meals. . . and a vacation adventure filled with wonderful people and new foods to try!
P.S. You don’t have to save this recipe for overnight guests or once-per-year events. Just ask my daughter!
Gluten-Free Blueberry Buckle
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup shortening (or plant –derived replacement)
1 egg (or equivalent egg replacement)
½ cup favorite milk
½ teaspoon orange extract
2 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour (I prefer cup-4-cup brand.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup sugar
1/3-cup gluten free flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup soft butter (or equal plant-based equivalent)
Begin by measuring and setting aside ¼ cup butter (or plant based replacement) to allow it to soften.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Prepare 9 x 9 square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or coconut oil.
Begin with cake ingredients by thoroughly mixing ¾ cup sugar, shortening, and egg.
Stir in milk and orange extract.
In separate bowl, blend together gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt.
Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Carefully blend in blueberries. (If using frozen blueberries, you can gently shake them in a zip lock bag with a bit of flour to prevent, or at least reduce, the batter turning purple.)
Spread batter into pan.
Reusing now empty dry ingredient bowl, (no sense dirtying another bowl) stir together dry topping ingredients: ½ sugar, 1/3 gluten free flour, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
Once dry ingredient well mixed, stir in butter with fork, mashing and blending until soft crumbly topping forms.
Sprinkle the topping over batter.
Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. (Please note, if using frozen blueberries, you do not need to thaw; however, the buckle may take a bit longer to bake.)
Serves 9, but recipe can be doubled as I frequently do this.
Further, once cut into squares, it’s great to freeze ahead for quick morning reheats.
Two types of gluten-free flour that I have used.