An Old-Fashioned Dessert for July 4th and Beyond

A few weeks ago, my longtime assistant, Emily Bell, was culling her files and discovered a recipe for “Gran’s peach buckle,” a recipe she had made often for her grandchildren when they were youngsters. This simple dessert had been such a hit with her family that she shared the recipe with me.

Most cooks are familiar with crisps and crumbles, but fewer have assembled buckles. The late Richard Sax in his cookbook, Classic Home Desserts (published  in 1994) offers the best definition of these three desserts: a crisp, he explains, is a dessert in which “the fruit is topped with a rubbed mix of butter, sugar, flour, and sometimes nuts.” He suggests that a crumble is an “English cousin to our crisp with its crunchy shortbread-like topping of oats, butter, flour, and brown sugar.” Further, he describes a buckle as being made with “berries, which are folded into or scattered over a tender yellow cake batter and usually topped with crumbs.”

Along with peaches I included blueberries for Emily’s buckle. I poured her rich cake batter (melted butter, flour, milk, two sugars, and an egg) into a baking dish, and scattered the fruits over it. Then I added her streusel topping that called for both almonds and almond paste. 

Served with scoops of vanilla ice cream, this dessert was a big hit with my spouse and our friends. If you are still searching for a dessert for this long holiday weekend, keep this in mind! Happy July 4th to everyone!  



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Emily’s Peach and Blueberry Buckle

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups peaches, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges (13/4 to 2 pds)
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch kosher salt

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (See cooking tip)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons almond paste (See market note)

1 quart good quality vanilla ice cream

1.Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the melted butter on the bottom and around the sides of a 2-quart baking dish.

2.Gently toss the peaches and blueberries together in a medium bowl and set aside.

3.For the batter, in a small mixing bowl beat the milk, vanilla, and egg together to combine well.

4.In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, white and light brown sugars, and salt. Then whisk in the milk mixture and the melted butter, stirring until well blended. Pour this batter into the baking dish. Then scatter the peaches and blueberries over the batter.  

5.For streusel, in a medium bowl stir together the flour, brown sugar, and almonds. Grate the chilled butter and almond paste on the large holes of a box grater into the bowl of dry ingredients. Using your fingers, combine until large crumbs form. Sprinkle streusel over the fruit.

6.Bake until top is golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.

Cooking tip: To toast almonds, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350° F oven until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.

Market note: Almond paste is available in baking section of most supermarkets. Odense, which comes in a 7-oz tube, is one I use often.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2022

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