Some things are better in moderation. Locusts, for example. Nobody wants a plague of locusts, or fleas, or pointless reality TV shows. Other things are fine in quantity. I certainly wouldn’t mind a plague of puppies, free orchestra concerts or chocolate-covered cherries. Blackberries fit rather nicely in the latter category as well. This is a very lucky thing, as there is a stall at our local farmer’s market selling fresh-picked wild blackberries for $5 per gallon. Yes, that’s per gallon. As a lover of blackberries, and a proud card-carrying cheapskate, I certainly cannot resist the siren call of all those wonderful, delightfully cheap berries. The question then arises, as we come home heavily laden with bags of sweet and juicy loot, as to what on earth are we going to do with all of that fruit. To make it worse, there are good quality blueberries on sale at the market, and the peaches are truly divine and just as well-priced. Summer’s bounty is, well, bountiful, and I for one can’t resist. Let flow the cornucopia!
How do we cope with such plenty? I begin by eating myself into a happy fruity coma, then eventually start to ponder 1.) storage and 2.) utilization in other foods. Since I haven’t done any preserving yet this summer and I doubt you want to read an article in which I put berries in containers, then place said containers in the freezer (trust me, it’s a real cliff-hanger), we’ll be focusing on the second option in this post.
My Mom makes something really quite wonderful called blueberry buckle. It’s kind of like a cobbler made with blueberries. It’s delicious, and easy, and I wondered if it would be as awesome with blackberries. (Are blackberries ever not awesome?)
Spoiler alert: Yes, you guessed it, it really is just as wonderful. Mom, close your eyes for the next part. I think my version is even better than the original. Don’t tell her that. Okay Mom, you can open your eyes now.
A list of stuff you use to make this food and the steps to turn it into said food (there’s got to be a better way of saying that…) :
2 1/4 C. flour (preferably unbleached pastry flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 C. butter
1/2 C white sugar
1 1/2 to 2 C. cultured buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C. sugared berries (I added about 1/4 C. of sugar; this is dependent on the natural sugar content of your fruit)
1/4 C. butter
1/4 C. flour
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients of the shortcake base together. I like to use an unbleached pastry flour (Bessie brand, from Birkett Mills in Penn Yan, NY if you really want to know); I find that the lower gluten content and finer milling creates a superior texture in the final product. I also tend to think that unbleached flours taste slightly better, so even if you use an All-Purpose flour, try an unbleached one and see if you prefer it as well. Here’s a helpful image, since I’ve recently noticed that many blogs contain gratuitous photos of every step regardless of whether there’s a point to it:
I’m not really a fan of pointless images. I have a high opinion of my reader’s ability to figure out how to perform basic tasks without resorting to photographic crutches. The comments are always open if there are any questions regarding the recipe. Aside from photos with noticeable artistic merit, I’m not going to add unnecessary images.
At any rate, you should have enough assorted white powders to send any dozen TSA agents into apoplectic fits.
Now cut in the butter. I use slightly warmed butter and a pastry blender. The below picture actually adds to the discussion, as it illustrates a less common kitchen tool.
Using a pastry blender (or a fork), cut the butter into pea-sized nodules. I always use unsalted butter. However, if your spouse did the last grocery run and came back with salted butter (not to name any names), you can cut the amount of salt called for in the recipe in half. Now you can add the buttermilk; the measurement of flour is so variable (unless you use a scale which most people, including me, don’t want to bother with) that I don’t think it makes sense to always use the same exact amount of liquid. Add the buttermilk and the vanilla until it looks right: in this case, a moist, homogeneous batter. It should be soft and slightly oozy but still clump together. Stir only to just barely bring it together; avoid over mixing. It won’t help. Really. Just step away from the spoon. Glop the batter into a greased 9″x 13″ (or equivalent) pan, spread it evenly, and let’s move on to the berries.
Good ripe berries don’t need much sweetening. If your berries are under ripe or your tastes run to the extremely sweet, add sugar until you decide it’s adequate. I used a quarter cup of white sugar with my two cups of blackberries. I should note that the traditional blueberries are of course excellent in this recipe, as are peaches, cherries, raspberries and most other fruits. Evenly distribute the fruit over your shortcake base, and we’ll move onto the topping.
This one’s easy. Put all the ingredients in a bowl (butter that is warmer than refrigerator temperature will make this easier) and mash it up with a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers. The idea is to create little bits of extra crunchy deliciousness to add over the top. Sprinkle on top of the berries; you should now have something that looks a little like this:
Bake for 25 minutes; let cool for as long as you can keep from digging in. Ice cream, whipped cream, vanilla Greek yogurt, etc. are all excellent pairings but my personal favorite is just a piece of buckle on a plate with nothing else to distract me. That’s all, folks! I need to end the distraction this post is causing me, as there’s still some buckle in the kitchen. I can hear it calling to me. :)