Peach Raspberry Buckle

It's not Summer without strawberries, am I right? A bowl of sweet, bright red jewel-like berries -- to be eaten plain as they are, sliced up and tossed with a little sugar, tucked into shortcakes, poured into pie crusts, or eaten with a dollop of whipped cream -- is a Summer must, as important as s'mores or burgers on the grill or corn on the cob. I was hit with my first Summer strawberry craving last week, which was not so surprising. It was just a matter of time, after all -- I'd made use of Summer eggplant, basil, blueberries, tomatoes, and zucchini, but strawberries remained uncrossed off in my SUMMER INGREDIENTS TO COOK WITH list (yeah, I have one of those). After a little serious thinking and soul searching, I decided that what I really needed to make as soon as possible was a buckle -- a simple, dense, vanilla-y cake that acts as a vehicle to support the abundant amount of juicy seasonal fruit it holds.

But apparently the time to buy strawberries at the Carrefour near Piazzale degli Eroi is BEFORE 8pm on a Wednesday night, because I found out the fragole were finite, i.e the strawberries were all sold out, confirmed by the large gaping space in the berry section of the supermarket, smack in the middle of the stacks of raspberries and blueberries and blackberries (why didn't anyone buy those?!) Disappointed, but not deterred, I decided to substitute my strawberries with a few peaches nearby and some of those raspberries (pouting all the while) figuring that two fruits just might amount to the greatness that would've been my strawberries. 

My strawberry craving is as of now still unsatisfied, but it was maybe not the worst thing that the Carrefour was out of strawberries, because this dessert came out splendidly, if I don't say so myself. The sweetness of the peaches offsets the slightly tart raspberries, and the cake is cinnamon-y and butter-y with slightly nutty undertones thanks to the browned butter. It is just sweet enough, and dense but still moist thanks to all the juices from the fruit. A square of this served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some freshly whipped cream is pure summer dessert bliss.

A couple of notes: Use the juiciest, ripest peaches you can find. The peaches or nectarines should be peeled. You can blanch them really quickly in boiling water -- just cut an "X" at the bottom of each piece of peach, drop them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove them from the water, pop them into a bowl of cold water to cool them off, and you'll be able to peel the skin right off.  Or you can do what I did on 9:30 on a weeknight, which was just sliver off the skin as you go (laziness is a powerful thing). I used browned butter because I like the nutty flavor it gives to desserts, but you can always use regular melted butter. I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon, but feel free to use less if you're not a cinnamon fiend like me. This recipe can be made with any other kind of juicy fruit -- those famous strawberries or plums, or substitute blueberries or strawberries for the raspberries and make a peaches and blueberry/peach and strawberry buckle. Enjoy!

PEACH RASPBERRY BUCKLE:

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large ripe nectarines or peaches, peeled, cut in to slices and then halved
1/2 cup raspberries
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with butter.

Put the peaches and raspberries in a bowl and add a teaspoon or two of sugar. Mix everything together and set aside. 

Melt the butter in a skillet and let cool slightly. Or, if you want to use browned butterdice the butter and put in a skillet over a medium heatLet the butter melt, and then let it begin to foam and bubble, stirring often. After a few minutes, the bubbling will subside and the butter will start smelling nutty. At this point, the butter is browned. It is important to pay very close attention during this stage, as you don't want to burn the butter.

Remove skillet from heat right away and pour the browned butter into a bowl so it doesn't continue to cook. Let butter cool.

Add the sugar to the melted butter in the bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk everything together again. Add the milk and stir to combine. Next, add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and mix the batter together until fully combined (note that the batter will be thick). Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Place the fruit on top and gently push down into the batter.

Bake the buckle until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool before serving, and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.






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