Stone Fruit Buckle

Summer baked goods are a  funny thing. Whether it’s a cobbler or crisp, buckle or slump, pandowdy, crumble, grunt or Brown Betty, the formula is the same: a combination of sugar, butter and flour that is little more than a backdrop for gloriously fresh fruit. Whether you go the berry route or the stone fruit route, this time of year, they all hit the spot. And after a bit of a baking hiatus, I knew exactly how I wanted to return to the oven — with something jammy, slightly tart and naturally sweet, dotted with glittering gems of fruit.

A buckle is a cake topped with fresh fruit and streusel. In the oven, the cake buckles around the fruit (hence the name) and the fruit keeps everything nice and moist. While the most traditional version is made with blueberries, I’ve been very into stone fruit this summer, gorging on peaches and plums and nectarines and cherries day after day. And while they’re quite lovely on their own, when is something not improved by some sugar-aided Q.T. in the oven?

I wanted to create my own recipe, but being a buckle novice, I instead tweaked a Martha recipe pretty liberally — adding some whole wheat flour to the cake and crumb, using brown sugar along with white and throwing in some cinnamon and nutmeg for good measure. I used pluots (a hybrid of plums and apricots) and nectarines in this version, but you could use any stone fruit. As long as there are 6 cups total of fruit, anything goes.

There are a few steps, but each step is pretty simple. The end result is well worth the (slightly long) baking time: a slightly sweet, fruity cake that pairs nicely with coffee. As dessert it’s perhaps a bit humble, but in the afternoon? This stone fruit buckle is perfect in the afternoon –  a quiet pick-me-up that delivers just what you need to finish your the day.

Stone Fruit Buckle
Adapted from Martha Stewart

For the cake batter:

- 2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

- 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

- 1 teaspoon salt

- 1-1/2 eggs*

- 1 cup milk

- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the fruit filling:

- 3 cups pluots, halved and pitted, then sliced into 1/2-inch wedges

- 3 cups nectarines, halved and pitted, then sliced into 1/2-inch wedges

- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar

- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the crumble topping (also from Martha):

- 6 tablespoons butter, softened

- 1/4 cup brown sugar

- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

- 1 cup whole-wheat flour

- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- pinch of salt

*I beat one egg in a measuring cup, then poured half of it into a medium-sized bowl. Add another whole egg, milk, butter and vanilla to that bowl, and save the remaining half for scrambled eggs.

1) Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 13-x-9 pan with butter and set aside. In a large bowl, mix both flours, the granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

2) In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and butter. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, then spread the batter into the prepared pan.

3) Mix the pluots, nectarines, lemon juice and brown sugar in a large bowl. Spread the fruit over the cake batter.

4) Make the crumble topping: combine the butter, sugar, lemon zest, flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, squish the butter so that the mixture becomes crumbly (get it?) — the texture should resemble wet sand. Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit mixture.

5) Bake for 45-60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway. When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center should come out with small crumbs (this might be a bit hard to gauge, since the fruit will be a bit wet).

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