Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
A long-standing classic returns for a special appearance this summer!
I can’t recall when we started making Blueberry Buckle, but it’s been a classic and a fan favorite pretty much ever since. If you haven’t had it, it’s a wonderful crumb-topped, cinnamon-scented, butter-enriched, and blueberry-laced coffee cake that you can eat, happily, any time of the day.
Blueberries are one of the most wonderful of Native North American foods. They are a big part of the culture and cooking of the Ojibwe people. Dried blueberries were one of the best indigenous sweeteners and were long used medicinally—they have lots of antioxidants, nutrients of all sorts, can help lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, and a dozen other good things.
Blueberry Buckle became popular after the publication of Elsie Masterton’s 1959 Blueberry Hill Cookbook. I know the book because of Masterton’s daughter, Laurey who was a wonderfully kind and inspiring caterer and creative leader in her hometown of Asheville (where French Broad Chocolate, now in those terrific Townie Brownies, is also located). Laurey was a long-time ZingTrain client who lost a long battle with cancer in 2014. Her life message was a good one: “Don’t postpone joy.” I still have the T-shirt from Laurey’s Catering with that on the back, and think of her every time I wear it.
The Blueberry Buckle is about as versatile a baked good as you can get. Great for breakfast, and excellent for dessert with a scoop of vanilla gelato. Because it can stand up to the sun without melting (no chocolate!), it’s ideal to pack for picnics. It’s a beautiful, delicious idea for a gift. Buy a bunch and keep them stashed in the freezer for special Sunday mornings as we move out of berrying season into the fall. Thinking in the Ojibwe tradition, it turns out it’s really good drizzled with maple syrup, also an essential element of pre-Columbian cooking of this region. You can eat it just as it is, or add a bit of whipped cream. Maybe better still, put some good butter into a skillet over medium heat, and when the butter starts to bubble lightly, add slices of the Buckle and cook it until it’s golden brown.
Blueberry Buckle is a seasonal item and is available during the summer.