August 22, 2014 at 1:00 am

Simply the Best

Buckles just right for summer fruit and growing kids

Jack, his bike and his buckle. (Kate Lawson / The Detroit News)

I have mentioned on several occasions that my kitchen picture window is my TV, only the channels are constantly changing and there are no reruns. From my vantage point, I can spy the hummingbirds, the butterflies, the pesky squirrels trying to raid the bird feeder, the blue jays strafing the yard for crumbs of bread, the rabbits innocently eating the clover (until my back is turned and they head for the garden) and the robins excavating for worms.

And then there are the kids. I have had the good fortune of watching so many grow up from babies in their strollers to toddlers and then running home when the school bus discharges them, now driving by with radios blasting. It always makes me smile.

My latest entertainment is Jack. He was a toddler when I first met him and his mother, Eva, and now he’s a rugged rough and tumble kid who loves to play soccer and hit the baseball, which his mother patiently tosses to him and which his dog, Red, chases down and runs off with. But the other day was a real thrill when I watched Eva running behind Jack on his big boy bike (sans training wheels) then letting go as Jack pedaled on his own.

Jack also likes to help his mom in the kitchen and loves to bake. Last week, they made me a beautiful fruit tart with a cookie crust. When it was time to return the tart plate, I made a lemon blueberry buckle for Jack and Eva to celebrate his big achievement. I thought he’d get a kick out of a dessert called a buckle. Actually, I do, too.

A buckle is a dessert that combines fresh seasonal fruit, a rich cake batter and a streusel topping sometimes compared to coffeecake. It’s one of my favorite desserts, and baking it while watching Jack whiz by my window in a blink of an eye is just the icing on the cake.

Lemon Blueberry Buckle

From “Rustic Fruit Desserts” by Cory Schreiber & Julie Richardson

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for pan

Crumb Topping

½ cup (2½ ounces) all-purpose flour
13 cup (2¼ ounces) granulated sugar
18 teaspoon fine sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed

Cake

1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons (8¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups (10 ounces) blueberries, fresh or frozen

Lemon Syrup

13 cup (2¼ ounces) granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

To make the crumb topping, mix the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest together in a bowl, then add the butter and use a fork or your fingers to cut in the butter until the size of peas. Place the topping in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

To make the cake, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a bowl. Using a hand-held mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest together on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Gently fold in 1 cup of the blueberries, spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining 1 cup blueberries over the cake.

Sprinkle the chilled crumb topping over the berries, then bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top.

To make the glaze, combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and whisk until blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until syrupy. The glaze will bubble while cooking, so you may need to remove it from the heat to check that it is thick enough.

Pour the glaze over the cake as soon as it is removed from the oven. Reheat the syrup briefly if it has become too thick to pour. Serves 8.

Storage: Covered in plastic wrap, the buckle will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Per serving: 395 calories; 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 27 percent calories from fat); 66 g carbohydrates; 37 g sugar; 82 mg cholesterol; 305 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 2 g fiber.

KLawson@detroitnews.com

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