A Buckle Cake For All Seasons
A similar post was initially published as “End of Summer Cake” on August 31, 2011
When it comes to cake, knowing a few formulas is the key to be able to produce delicious desserts with what you have – almost effortlessly. Because once you understand the recipe, you can tweak it ad infinitum to vary the results: change the fruit, change the flour, change the flavoring or spice, change the filling, change the icing, change the pan shape… and suddenly the three or four basic cake recipes that you can do (almost) in your sleep become 40 different desserts. That’s why I call them “formulas”.
Witness this recipe for Italian plum cake. Technically it’s a buckle cake – a simple rustic cake where the batter rises as it bakes and buckles around the fruit.
In the spring, use strawberries, cherries or apricots. In summer, blackberries, plums, yellow peaches or nectarines. Or slices of sauteed apples, roasted quince, persimmons, or pears in early fall. Or a mixture of fruit. In winter, use frozen fruit (my preference), or exotic fruit. Less refined flours like whole wheat or spelt accentuate the rustic aspect of the cake, and brings another layer of flavor. I also like to subtitle up to 1/3 of the flour with non-wheat flours (nuts, sorghum, buckwheat, millet etc). Additions of nuts & seeds can drastically enhance the flavor profile as well.
It’s not a sophisticated looking cake, like, oh say, a Reine de Saba, but is a satisfying not-too-filling dessert, moist, with a little crunch and lots of fruit – great for breakfast as well, especially with a bid dollop of plain yogurt. Best of all, it’s an easy recipe to memorize, and by playing with it, it will look like you know 10 different recipes!
Buckle Cake Formula
- 115 g (½ Cup / 1 stick) unsalted butter, soften to room temperature + more for greasing the pan
- 150 g (¾ Cup) sugar
- 15 ml (1 Tablespoon) flavoring (such as vanilla extract, almond extract, liqueur)
- 135 g (1 Cup) AP wheat flour or combination
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 extra large eggs
- Enough sliced or chopped fruit (fresh or frozen) to cover the batter completely. Not need to thaw is the fruit is frozen
- 2 Tablespoons nuts or seeds – optional
- 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey (more or less depending on the fruit sweetness) for the topping.
Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven 350 degrees F (175 C)
- Butter/ line with parchment paper a cake springform pan – 8, 9 or 10 inches. The larger the pan, the thinner the cake.
- Cream the sugar and the butter in a bowl. Still beating, add the flavoring, then flour, baking powder, salt and eggs, and beat well.
- Pour the batter into the pan. The batter is sticky and it looks like there won’t be enough. There will be: this is a thin cake. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the batter to ensure that it covers the bottom of the pan completely.
- Arrange the fruit slices on top of the batter, in a single layer quite snugly together. Sprinkle with the tablespoon sugar and nuts if using.
- Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check after 45 minutes, as the cake may be done sooner depending on your pan size & oven. If using frozen fruit, it may take a few minutes little longer. Thinner cakes will take less long than thicker ones. The cake is done when the batter feels fairly firm and the cake pulls ever so slightly from the pan.
Buckle Cake Ideas
|Strawberry, sliced or halved||AP wheat & oat flour||Add 1 Tbsp poppy seed to the batter|
|Rhubarb, chopped||AP wheat & buckwheat||1 Tbsp fresh or crystalized minced ginger|
|Cherries, sweet or sour (pitted)||AP wheat & rye flour||1 pinch of 5-spice powder + flavoring = 1 Tbsp Bourbon whisky OR kirsch|
|Blueberries||AP wheat & cornmeal||fresh lemon zest + 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice|
|Peaches, peeled & sliced||AP wheat &/or spelt||1/4 C pepitas or slivered almonds|
|Nectarines, sliced||AP wheat & almond||flavoring = almond extract|
|Blackberries or raspberries (red or black)||AP wheat + oat flour||flavoring = 1 Tbsp framboise|
|Apples, quince or pears||Whole wheat or spelt||1/4 C chopped pecans/walnuts|
flavoring = 1 Tbsp apple jack/
|Persimmon, Asian (sliced)||AP flour + sorghum flour||1 Tbsp sesame seeds|