The fruits of summer open so many options for delicious desserts it can be difficult to choose which to make! I have a soft spot for more vintage desserts finding their relaxed posture and easy methods to mirror the ease of summer. Cobbler, Crisps, Brown Betty are all familiar desserts most have enjoyed starting with their Grandmother’s kitchens. I personally am drawn to those more bizarrely named; Slumps, Grunts, Pandowdies and Buckles.
Candidly my original fascination was derived from the names, all of which stem from the unceremonious appearance of the desserts. A pandowdy for instance is ‘fruit, sugar and spices cooked with a deep dish with a thick crust top’. The origin of its name is uncertain but believed to have come from the ‘dowdy’ appearance of the dessert. The fruits ooze out of the top crust when cooking leaving a rustic, unkempt look to the dessert.
This past week my farm CSA share included two pounds of fresh strawberries. Ripe, juicy and ready to eat. When strawberries are fully ripe they must be eaten quickly, within a day or so, or they begin to soften and brown. As much as I was enjoying eating them raw I was feeling the itch to dabble in the vintage desserts and decided to make a Strawberry Buttermilk Buckle in miniature cast iron skillets for personal desserts.
Buckles are single layer cakes with fruit mixed in and a streusel topping. As the mixture cooks the top creates a craterous surface looking as though the dessert is ‘buckling’ hence its name. Buckles are easy to prepare with a simple batter and separate three ingredient streusel. They are flexible for adaptation to most summer fruits leaving them a perfect last minute dessert depending on the fruit you have on hand. I tend to change up the spices depending on the fruits I’m using leaving each buckle slightly unique in their own right. Buckles are the perfect summer dessert in my book and made all the better with a nice scoop of ice cream or whipping cream to top them off!
Miniature Strawberry Buttermilk Buckle
- ¼ cup (softened) plus ¼ cup (cold) unsalted Butter
- ¼ cup Shortening (I use organic vegetable shortening)
- ½ cup plus ¼ cup granulated Sugar
- 1 Egg , room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup plus 1/3 cup Flour (gluten-free blend or regular All Purpose flour if not gluten-free)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/3 cup Buttermilk
- 2 cups fresh Strawberries , hulled and chopped
- ½ teaspoon Nutmeg , preferably freshly ground
- 1/8 teaspoon ground Ginger
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 4 6-inch cast iron skillets (or a 9x9 baking pan or 10-inch cast iron skillet). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a hand held mixer), cream the ¼ cup softened butter until fully soft. Add the shortening and mix to fully combine.
- Add the ½ cup sugar to the butter mixture and beat to combine.
- Add the egg to the mixture and beat to fully combine.
- In a separate mixing bowl combine the 1 ¼ cups flour, baking powder, salt; mix together thoroughly. Slowly pour into the butter mixture while running the mixer on a low speed. The mixture may be a bit dry.
- While the mixer is still running slowly pour in buttermilk and beat until fully combined.
- To make the Streusel: Cut the cold ¼ cup butter into small pieces. Combine ¼ cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and the nutmeg and ginger in the bowl. Using dinner knives or a pastry blender, cut the ingredients together forming a pebble-like mixture.
- Spoon theevenly batter into the prepared skillets or baking pan. Evenly layer the chopped strawberries on top of the batter in each skillet. Distribute the streusel evenly across the top of each skillet mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes (or 40-45 minutes if using one pan or larger skiller) until the top is a light golden brown. Allow to sit for five minutes before serving warm!