Buckle Up

A relic of a bygone era, buckles appear in books mostly as footnotes, a passing mention as an antiquated dessert with a funny name. For all the cobblers, crumbles, crisps, and pies out there, hardly anyone stops to consider making a slump, grunt, brown Betty, or our hero of the day, a buckle.

While everyone was staying home and stress-baking banana bread during the pandemic, it would have made much more sense to see a resurgence of fruit buckles. The dessert gets its name from its appearance, dimpled with fruit and streusel topping, like the wrinkled surface of a bridge about to give way. Given the way the world itself felt warped out of shape, distorted and liable to collapse any moment, the humble fruit buckle seems well suited to that unstable energy.

Thankfully, this construction is much more structurally sound than it may look. Though there’s a high ratio of fruit to batter, it holds up admirably under pressure, including transportation, advanced prep, and indelicate slicing. In fact, it’s much more stable than our beloved pumpkin pie.

This holiday season, I’m bringing the buckle back. Dressed in a spicy cloak of ginger and warm brown sugar, winter’s finest crimson cranberries sparkle from within, dusted with a heavy snow of confectioner’s sugar over sweet cinnamon crumbs. Blueberry buckles may be the best known of the bunch, but there’s no reason why we can’t switch gears with the seasons here. Emblematic of the fleeting nature of the holidays, cranberries will be gone before you know it, so you had better get your fill of these tart little jewels while they’re still around.

Plan ahead and toss a bag or two of fresh cranberries in the freezer to extend the joy. You can toss them right into the batter without thawing to speed right through to the good part: eating. Enjoy warm, at room temperature, or even chilled. My favorite approach is to enjoy it lightly toasted in the oven or air fryer, individually crisped slices with extra crunchy edges, and a big scoop of ice cream slowly melting on top.

Just because it buckles doesn’t mean it will break. It’s stronger than it looks, just like all of us.

Yield: Makes 8 - 10 Servings

Cranberry Gingerbread Buckle

Cranberry Gingerbread Buckle

This season, we're bringing the buckle back. Dressed in spicy cloak of gingerbread, winter's finest crimson cranberries sparkle from within, dusted with a heavy snow of confectioner's sugar over sweet cinnamon crumbs. Blueberry buckles may be the best known of the bunch, but there's no reason why we can't switch gears for the holidays here.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Struesel Topping:

  • 1/4 Cup Vegan Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt

Gingerbread Batter and Fruit:

  • 1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1⁄2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 1/2 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (12-Ounce) Bag (3 Cups) Fresh Cranberries

To Serve:

  • Confectioner's Sugar, as Needed (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9-inch round springform pan.
  2. First, prepare the struesel. Place the vegan butter in the bowl of your stand mixer and install the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with your spatula to make sure everything is incorporated before adding the flour, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt. Beat once more on low speed until the mixture is homogeneous and the consistency of gravel, with coarse crumbs in varying sizes. Stash in the fridge to chill while making the gingerbread.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Add the cranberries and toss gently to coat with flour.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar, non-dairy milk, oil, molasses, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Make a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir with a wide spatula to combine, mixing just until the batter is smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, then sprinkle the chilled struesel evenly over the top.
  6. Slide the pan into your preheated oven and bake until golden brown and the center springs back when lightly touched; about 40 - 45 minutes.
  7. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

You can use an equal measure of frozen cranberries instead of fresh. Just toss them right into the batter without thawing.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 312Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 228mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 2gSugar: 26gProtein: 4g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

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