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18 August 2010

gluten-free nectarine-blueberry buckle


I look forward to that first perfect peach every summer.

You know the one I mean, right? That firm-fleshed peach that yields to the teeth, the one that is not entirely soft but not as hard as a toddler's head either. The peach that is so bursting with juice that you have to stand over the sink to eat it, and let the juice run down your wrist to your elbow.

That peach.

I haven't had one yet.

Oh, I've had some decent peaches. We have a farmstand here on the island that buys fruit and veg directly from about 20 farmers in Eastern Washington. This couple is in their 70s (I think), yet they are so dedicated to bringing great produce to the island that he drives over the mountains every Thursday to pick up the zucchini, peppers, corn, and nectarines. Last year, they had fantastic peaches. This year, not so much.

It has been a lousy summer, weather wise. (Life wise? Far sunnier than the skies.) It was the coldest, rainiest spring in Seattle history. June was grey and dripping. We've had only 2 several-day bursts of truly hot weather the entire summer. Sigh. These are not the best peach-growing conditions.

(Our cherry tree? No cherries. We saw some green cherries, in the continual process of spring -- bare black branch to dark cherries — but none of them ripened. None. All our neighbors said the same. It has been a lousy year for the garden.)

The farmers in Eastern Washington must be wanting to smack the weather guy. No good weather means lousy year for their crops means horrible financial situation. So the fact that I haven't had my platonic ideal of a peach yet? I'm not suffering that much.

Still. It's one of the benchmarks of my year. Walking through a pile of leaves and trying to resist the urge to kick. The first time I hear Christmas carols and feel like singing along (that's never as early as the stores want me to sing). The first green vegetables appearing at the farmers' market in spring. And that peach.

(Okay, I should admit that our friend Jon Rowley brought us a box of peaches from Frog Hollow Farm, the legendary farm in California. We were so grateful. They were a couple of days away from Jon's recommended ripeness, so we let them sit. And then life grew busy. We remembered them a couple of days past perfect ripeness, which is why you see that touch of brown up there. Still. Those peaches are astonishing. They just aren't from here.)

It hasn't truly felt like summer around here.

Oh well. That's okay. Just more stone fruits that need to be baked in a buckle.

How You Can Join in Summer Fest:

So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Wednesday, July 28, for five Wednesdays, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.
Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. Yes, copy and paste them everywhere! That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.
Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of

Next week: tomatoes!

This Week’s Stone Fruit Links

blueberry-nectarine brown butter buckle

Nectarine-Blueberry Brown Butter Buckle

When I saw the nectarine buckle recipe that Deb at Smitten Kitchen had left this out of her upcoming cookbook, I knew two things: 1) now I want that cookbook even more than I did before, and 2) I have to adapt this to be gluten-free. Today.

I must admit that this summer is the first time I have ever baked a buckle. Crumbles? Crisps? Pies? Dozens of times in one season. But a buckle? What is a buckle? And is it very different than a slump? (It turns out that a slump is different as a buckle, but it is the same as a grunt.)

I'll tell you what a buckle is: so wonderfully good that I don't care what you call it. (One of my friends always tells this tired old joke: "I don't care what you call me, as long as you don't call me late for dinner." I still laugh.) But if you must know, a buckle is a soft cake -- think sort of sponge cake, sort of angel food cake -- with a layer of fresh fruit and a streusel topping.

Danny agrees. This nectarine-blueberry brown butter buckle makes an incredible summer treat, soft and sweet, cake and streusel topping, and the perfect chance to make use of those stone fruits that are less than impeccable. He has been making this as one of the desserts at his restaurant for the last couple of weeks. They don't sell it as a gluten-free dessert. It's simply one of the desserts of the day. It always sells out.

Do you have some not-perfect peaches or nectarines lying around? How about blueberries? Read this recipe for nectarine-blueberry brown butter buckle, then start moving toward the kitchen.

170 grams (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
40 grams superfine brown rice flour
40 grams amaranth flour
55 grams potato starch
55 grams sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
9 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder
4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) fine sea salt
6 grams (1 teaspoon) powdered ginger
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
150 grams (2/3 cup) milk (we used soy milk here)
about 4 cups nectarines (pitted and sliced thick) and blueberries combined
1 teaspoon lemon juice

for the streusel topping
brown butter leftover from the cake
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
32 grams superfine brown rice flour
32 grams sweet rice flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Browning the butter. This takes patience. In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Don't touch it. It will start to foam and bubble. Don't touch it. Suddenly it will turn clear, and you'll think you are there. Don't touch it. When the butter turns brown and smells wonderful, touch it. At this stage, the butter can burn quickly. Take the pan off the heat and set aside the butter to cool.

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with a circle of parchment paper, buttered on both sides. (Michael Ruhlman just put up a useful sort of post about how to cut a circle of parchment paper.)

Making the buckle batter. Guess what? You won't need a stand mixer for this. Whisk the superfine brown rice flour, amaranth flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flour together, along with the guar gum and xanthan gum. Add the baking powder, salt, and ginger to the bowl. In a separate bowl, stir 1/2 cup of the brown butter and sugar together. Plop in one egg at a time, stirring in between. Stir in the soy milk. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients, then stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the pan.

Toss the nectarines and blueberries together with the lemon juice. Arrange them loosely over the top of the cake batter. (If you want to be precise about the arranging, you'll have a beautiful buckle. Me? I wanted to get this cake into the oven. So I'm calling it rustic.)

Making the streusel. Combine the remaining brown butter, sugar, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir them until the mixture looks like large, damp crumbs. Spread this mixture evenly over the top of the buckle.

Baking the buckle. Slide the cast-iron skillet into the oven. Allow the buckle to bake until the top is golden brown and the cake part is firm. (If you put a toothpick in, you're going to hit wet fruit, as Deb said. Listen to her -- don't overbake this.)

Allow the buckle to cool for 15 minutes, then slice it up.

Feeds 8.

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At 9:59 PM, Blogger Christina said...

This looks delicious! My mom always made us blueberry buckle in the summer and it was my favorite. It was almost more of a coffee cake, with lots of streusel. I made a plum buckle this week for Summer Fest and it was a winner!

At 3:31 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Ditto on the no so great summer (life not weather) but this looks like just the thing to life me up.

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting the measurement amounts along with the weight amounts of the ingredients. Could you PLEASE put the measurement amounts of everything. I realize you want it to be perfect for us readers, but honestly I am not into my dishes being that perfect. I am not going to weigh my ingredients and you are losing me on making things because of the whole measuring thing. I am positive I am not the only one who feels this way. LOVE your sight, but PLEASE start putting the cup measurements along with the weight measurements.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Kim @ Two Good Cookies said...

Oh goodness gracious do I love nectarines. And with the very large bucket of blueberries in my fridge.... Yum.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger I Am Gluten Free said...

Oh, heaven. This and a cup of tea. Yes!

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks yummy. could I subtitue peaches??? & could you please translate the weights into measurements?
thanks a yummy bunch

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Ah I know La Nina is a bummer, but also fyi, even in decent years at our old house our fruit trees were usually more productive every other year, I think this is fairly normal, regardless of weather. This seems to be the perfect day for baking though!

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Lauren said...

Yes, I know that peach. In fact, I had it this weekend. It came from a stand on the side of the road in BC, and was exactly as you described. A slice of heaven (the plums from that stand were the same. The sweetest, juiciest ones I've ever had in my life).

This buckle looks like heaven. Brown butter, with those fresh fruits? I'm so there.

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Julia Sarver said...

YUM! I'm so excited to try this recipe with plums. One of my favorite pre-GF desserts was a Bavarian plum dessert my grandmother used to make. Now that I think about it, I think it was a buckle. I can't wait to try to recreate a GF version. Thanks!

At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Dania from The Cookery said...

So funny, I also made Deb's cake this week converted to GF! I used your GF flour mix that you suggested when reviewing "Good to the Grain" (the cookbook), it was delicious but a little too heavy for my stomach, probably too much of that delicious brown butter...

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Maria said...

I love rustic fruit desserts. This one looks fantastic.

I just made peaches n' cream muffins:

I love stone fruits!

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Stephanie @ Dollop of Cream said...

Isn't that funny? I have been eating some lovely peaches from the Okanagan (Canadian side of the border), but I was just thinking that none of them have been quite as sweet as the very perfect summer peach.

My contribution to Summer Fest is a peach crisp -- also good for great but not absolutely astounding peaches. I've given you a regular and a gluten-free option for it. It's great hot out of the oven with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on top . . .


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