Blackberry Buckle

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in Chatham, MA, this summer, and have stopped a few times at a local breakfast spot called Hangar B. It’s off the beaten path –  at the tiny airport in Chatham – but worth finding. All their food is great, but the real standouts are their incredible homemade baked goods and jams.

The blackberry jam in particular is so good that I wanted to find to way another way to eat it. Because spreading it on doughnuts with lemon curd just wasn’t enough.

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I played around with a number of different cake batters and crumbles, and this Blackberry Buckle finally hit all the marks. It’s a riff on traditional blueberry buckle, or coffee cake, with a jammy swirl running through the middle. The cake itself is moist and has just a hint of lemon. It’s basically a vehicle for the blackberries and crumble, but very good in its own right too.

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This is the kind of cake you could make for dessert, and serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or for breakfast, with a big mug of coffee. I would recommend serving it for dessert and then eating the leftovers before anyone else is awake the next morning.

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Use the best jam you can find for this cake- preferably one without a lot of “jiggle,” so to speak. I first tried this recipe with Hangar B’s blackberry jam and was very happy with the results, but I wanted to make sure the cake would be delicious with regular grocery store jam, too. I tried a few different kinds, and Bonne Maman and Hero blackberry preserves were by far the best.

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Blackberry Buckle

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blackberry jam
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries, divided
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt, such as Fage
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • crumble topping:
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour a 9” inch square baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the jam, 1 cup of the blackberries, and ½ tsp vanilla extract.  In another small bowl, make the crumble topping. Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and pinch the ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture makes big crumbles. Set aside the jam mixture and crumble topping.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer),  cream the butter and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the yogurt, lemon zest, and remaining 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, and spoon the jam mixture on top. Using a spatula, carefully spread the jam mixture to cover the entire surface of the batter. Add remaining cake batter in large spoonfuls and carefully smooth again. Don’t worry if the jam peeks through the top layer of batter in places.
  6. Sprinkle the crumble topping and remaining 1 cup blackberries on top and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the center of the cake springs back under a light touch.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or at room temperature.

 

Croissant French Toast with Red Berries

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The idea of getting up early to cook breakfast for someone has always struck me as an incredibly thoughtful gesture. But in the middle of winter, it’s not always to leap out of bed first thing in the morning, so I wanted to come up with a recipe that was special enough for Valentine’s Day breakfast- but not so complicated that you’d sooner roll over and go back to sleep than actually make it.

Croissant French Toast is definitely a little more festive and decadent than traditional French toast, but because this recipe calls for using day-old bakery croissants, it’s no more difficult or time consuming to make. In fact, because croissants are lighter (so to speak) and flakier than brioche or challah bread, they absorb the milk and egg mixture much more quickly. Assuming you are fully awake when you begin, this entire recipe should take less than a half hour from start to finish.

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The French toast custard is flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract and orange zest. Ina often uses a splash of liqueur to deepen the flavor of her baked goods and desserts, and she suggested adding a splash of Grand Marnier to really bring out the orange flavor. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes. I find that another splash mixed in with the berries gives them a nice little zing, too, and makes the out-of-season fruit much juicier.

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The croissants cook through pretty quickly over medium-low heat, but if you’re worried about the first one getting cold, just turn your oven on the lowest temperature and keep the croissant halves warm until you’re ready to serve them.

When I first thought about this recipe, I imagined a breakfast-in-bed scenario, complete with a picture-perfect tray, big mugs of coffee, and sunlight streaming through the window. But in reality, February mornings are freezing and dark, and frankly, eating in bed is a little awkward.(Maybe it’s telling that the only times I can remember actually eating breakfast in my bed involve Jell-O and a bad case of the flu.)

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I tested this recipe on my friends Lulu and Julia and fortunately, they agreed it tasted just as good at the kitchen table as it would have in bed. That said, if you want to go the breakfast-in-bed route, don’t let me deter you. Just don’t forget the whipped cream!

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Croissant French Toast with Red Berries

Ingredients

  • 2 croissants, preferably a day old, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp grated orange zest
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsp Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, divided
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • maple syrup, for serving,
  • whipped cream (optional), for serving

Directions

  1. Place the croissant halves, cut sides down, in a shallow baking dish just large enough to fit them in one layer.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, vanilla extract, Grand Marnier and salt until well combined. Pour mixture over the croissant halves. Soak the croissants for 10 minutes, using a spoon to ladle the custard over them halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the raspberries and strawberries with the remaining 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier.
  4. Melt half the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. When the butter is hot, place both halves of one of the croissants, cut sides down, in the pan. Immediately sprinkle the outsides with granulated sugar and cook for 4 minutes, until the cut sides are golden brown. Using a spatula, flip the croissant halves and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Remove and repeat with the remaining croissant. Serve immediately with the berries, maple syrup and whipped cream, if using.