I was in the marching band in high school. Jamm. Har har. Tee hee. Yes, cool to some, uncool to many, but just know that those years were some of the most rewarding years of my life. I still apply the lessons I learned to random mid-twenty-something life events now.
It’s funny, too. Though I still cherish the oh-so-important things I learned, I also remember the most random, weird things from those years. We used to compete in towns scattered around the Southeast every weekend and were like circus folk, building our tiny weekend lives in a bus, creating changing tents from uniform bags and making bunk beds out of dirty floors and spilled Powerade drenched seats. We’d always stop at state lines for stretches, pep talks, and, most importantly, snacks. Oh, don’t worry, we ate the entire ride. Gummy worms. Cheesy puffs. Ten pound bags of pure sugar. But when we stopped, that meant we were getting something made by the band moms. PB&Js. Turkey and cheese. Blueberry Buckle.
Blueberry Buckle, you ask? Our band director loved to tell us that we were going to have that as a snack after we sang our entire show and hyped us all up enough to the point that we could have sung our fight song for two and a half hours on end. We all loved him, but we’d all look at each other and say, “…What did he say? Blueberry what? Did he just tell me my shoe was untied?” Buckle is really just a variety of cobbler, except the fruit filling is mixed in to a cake-like batter. There’s a crumble on top, so it’s kind of like a big, giant streusel muffin. Win. I’m changing the traditional blueberry buckle to an apple cinnamon buckle, using some apples my husband’s mom got us from the mountains. Another win!
apple cinnamon buckle
1/2 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup natural cane sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups peeled apples, cut into small chunks (about 4 apples)
To make the crumble topping, add all ingredients to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 2 minutes, until the butter is completely incorporated with the dry ingredients. Put in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350º and position the rack to the lower third of the oven. Butter and flour an 8″ cake pan. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon until fully combined. Set aside. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt for several minutes, until fluffy like a cloud, scraping the sides as needed. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, fully mixing the batter between each one. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until just incorporated. The batter is thick. Add the apple chunks and fold in by hand. You will probably say, “Geez, ya want some dough with your apples?” All of those apples will keep the batter moist.
Spread the mixture in the cake pan in an even layer. Get a handful of the crumble topping and squeeze it. Then, sprinkle it over the batter. Continue until you’ve used all of the crumble topping and it’s sprinkled evenly over the batter. Bake for 1 hour, until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick returns clean from the center. Let cool for 15 minutes and invert onto a cake plate.
“And just why is it called buckle?” Ha! You think I know all. I’ve heard it’s because the crumble topping cracks in the baking process, giving it a buckled appearance. Mine didn’t really look buckled, so I’ll take a whack at the definition. An apple cinnamon buckle is the edible apple pie-like seatbelt on a giant candy airplane with licorice pilots and gumdrop flight attendants. Ittttt’s…definitely the first one.