Blackberry Buckle Recipe (vegan/lower-sugar) – An American Classic

This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.Growing up in Florida there wasn’t much opportunity for blackberry picking – too warm you see. Even in cooler Tennessee, where I was born and where my grandparents lived, I never managed to head up to the tree-covered hills just over the road – hills no doubt smothered with wild berries and mushrooms during the late summer and early fall.

Bears. Or rather, tales of bears put paid to intrepid trips with baskets and thick cotton gloves.

We did however have natural, free-ranging adventures during our extended summer visits. On my grandparent’s sprawling farm ran a pebble-studded creek (like a wide burn, if you are Scottish and reading this). At the time it was thrilling to explore, but thinking about it now I realise how uniquely blessed my sister and I were to be able to tramp nearly half a mile though high grass, around the fishing pond, skirt the well house, through a herd of cows, say hello to the bull in his field, and clamber down a steep, red clay bank to jump into freezing cold clear water. Would that happen today? I don’t think so.

This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.We would be gone hours, often with one of our aunts (two were quite adventurous), but just as often it would be us two lanky, gawky pre-teens setting off in foot-shredding flip-flops for an afternoon of arrow head and shark teeth collecting. This rural area outside of Nashville used to be rich with artefacts from epochs, even millennia, back. And as the creek would not infrequently flood (once even lifting the 1870s wooden general store and turning it nearly 180 degrees. It still stands today.), other interesting bits would wash down from the fields: gold, allegedly.

Today my Edinburgh-based adventures are limited to sneaking into the doctor’s car park at the weekend to pick from the untamed raspberry and blackberry bushes that line the perimeter. Over the years I reckon that I have had about 10 kilos of fruit from these rambling bramble bushes.

wild blackberries picked in the doctor's car park, a car park which is deserted at the weekends...

wild blackberries picked in the doctor’s car park, a car park which is deserted at the weekends…

I expect that sometime soon the hospital where I work will pay contractors to tear out this unexpected asset (to me anyway) and replace it with more asphalt. But for now it is just me most weekends during July and September, shredding my forearms and pricking my fingers in pursuit of one last berry to take home. It’s always that one berry that you can’t reach that is the fattest, most deeply-hued, black-blue juicy morsel. Hence the deep scratches.

I’m fairly positive that I am on CCTV entertaining the security chaps with my quasi-legal antics and messy sampling as I go. I have even given a cheeky wave. Maybe if I bring them this blackberry buckle they won’t tell the boss?…

This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.

Wild Blackberry Buckle {vegan and lower sugar}

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A smaller and healthier version of a beloved US-style dessert, this “buckle” is so-called (perhaps; no one knows really) because when you pour a load of fresh fruit onto a sizzling batter the whole thing buckles under the weight. Truly delicious with almost any ripe fruit, but blackberries – or in this case, Scottish wild brambles – are the best. Use plain unbleached flour to make it lighter, but I hope you like it with the wholegrain stuff. xx

Batter

100g (3/4 US cup) wholemeal flour (I use wholegrain spelt flour)

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp fine salt

¼ tsp ground cardamom (two-three green pods-worth)

2 tbsp (packed) muscovado or raw sugar

30g (1/4 cup) ground almonds/almond meal OR coarse cornmeal

150ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) almond milk or other milk

1 tsp real almond extract (optional)

The Rest

175g (1 & 1/3 cup) blackberries/brambles OR full-flavoured blueberries

1 tbsp demerara sugar/raw sugar (more if the berries seem bitter)

1 ½ tbsp extra virgin coconut butter or organic dairy butter

30g (slightly heaped 1/3 cup) flaked almonds

You will need: a 20cm diameter (small) well-seasoned cast-iron skillet for best results, or use a favourite pie pan of the same size. You want one that will help give a golden crust to the bake.

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

2. Make up the batter by dry-whisking the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom and stirring in the sugar and almond meal/cornmeal in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the almond milk and extract (if using) until you get a thick batter. Set aside for now.

3. Heat the butter in the pan until starting to foam/the coconut oil is completely melted and fragrant – I use a skillet so I heat the fat on my hob over a medium flame. Swirl the fat so that it comes up the sides a bit – you are wanting this buckle to have a crisp crust.

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

4. Spoon the batter onto the hot fat, but don’t spread it quite to the edge. Top with the berries, slighting pressing them into most of the exposed batter and piling the remainder on top. Sprinkle over the sugar. Immediately place in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges are crusty and firm.

5. During the last five minutes add the almonds to a small tray and pop them into the oven. Remove both pans from the oven and serve the blackberry buckle warm with ice cream, crème fraiche, yogurt and more fruit – sliced red plums are nice. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds – don’t forget them as they are really super on this pudding.This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.

A bigger slice? This recipe is easily doubled; use a larger pan and increase the baking time to 1 hour.

Another dimension? Add a small handful of chopped apples, and use a little less berries.

Nutrition, taste and preparation notes: Here is an accessible and factual article on SFGate, but basically blackberries (especially wild ones) are low in calories, high in fibre, chock full of disease-preventing ellagic acid and loads of vitamins and minerals and may help fight cognitive decline.

I try and eat some kind of wild berries every day, mostly ones I have picked and frozen. If you are out picking, chose an unpolluted, low-traffic area and pull off the deepest-coloured but still pluckable fruits (really ripe ones will disintegrate in your hand – picker’s perk). Other similar fruits to look for are listed here on Serious Eats.

When home, line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper and tumble the fruits onto it, whacking them into the freezer for at least an hour then pouring the frozen berries into labeled freezer bags.  They will keep up to a year quite well, and with little deterioration in nutritional value. Fresh or frozen berries are perfect for this low-sugar but deeply flavourful dessert. Defrost if frozen and pat with some paper towel. Foraged berries will have a spectrum of flavours. Depending on the hedgerow you happen upon you may find berries that taste faintly of cedar, cloves, or mint. The ones where I pick taste ever so gently of rose.

Nutrition Chart

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)** ORAC Value 5347 µmol**
**Nutritive Value per 100 g**

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 43 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 9.61 g 7%
Protein 1.39 g 2%
Total Fat 0.49 g 2%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 5.3 g 14%
Vitamins
Folates 25 µg 6%
Niacin 0.646 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.276 mg 5.5%
Pyridoxine 0.030 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.020 IU 2%
Vitamin A 214 IU 7%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Vitamin E 1.17 mg 8%
Vitamin K 19.8 µg 16.5%
Electrolytes
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 162 mg 3%
Minerals
Calcium 29 mg 3%
Copper 165 µg 18%
Iron 0.62 mg 8%
Magnesium 20 mg 5%
Manganese 0.646 mg 3%
Selenium 0.4 µg 1%
Zinc 0.53 mg 5%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß 128 µg
Carotene-a 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 118 µg

Recipes from others:

Blackberry-Tofu Brûlée – Fab Food 4 All

Blackberry Smoothie – Recipes From A Pantry

Fig & Blackberry Crumble (gluten-free) – Franglais Kitchen

Blackberry Buckle – Smitten Kitchen (this is like a coffee cake)

Another fruity skillet recipe from me – Plum-Berry Upside Down Skillet Cobbler

…and, if you have loads of berries, as well as freezing them why not make some fruit vinegar to0? Here’s my tried and trusted recipe. I’ve been making this for years.