Are you sitting down, dear ones? Do you have something to steady yourselves with?
Alright. Now take this in:
Tender buttermilk cake.
Streusel (pssst: in German, its language of origin, it's pronounced "stroysel", not "stroosel").
And then (oh, then!): Fresh lemon syrup.
Yes, I have in fact just listed the four compelling reasons why this lemon blueberry buckle is the very next thing you must bake, even if you live in a city currently suffering through a heat wave. (Strip down to your skivvies, if you must. This is important.)
I know, I know: that list can, to some ears, sound a little...ordinary? Pedestrian? Yeah, yeah, blueberries, streusel, lemons, yadda yadda yadda? But listen, seriously, this thing is so good, so darn delicious, that I cannot let you just walk past. Stop! Stop and look at my buckle!
A buckle, at least according to what resulted in this recipe, is a tender, buttermilk-enriched cake flavored with lemon zest and studded with fresh blueberries, then topped with more fresh blueberries and a lemon-zest besprinkled streusel that is strewn across the cake half-frozen. And then, in a stroke of genius, after the cake is pulled from the oven, it gets a final shot of extra lemon flavor from a hot lemon syrup spooned across the top.
The best part is that you have to wait until the cake cools completely to eat it, which may seem like torture, but ends up being fantastic. Because: the cake mellows out; the blueberries cool into squidgy little blue pockets of flavor; the streusel settles into itself, crunchy in pockets and tender in others; and the syrup makes everything fairly glow with sweet, tart, citrusy goodness.
Have I convinced you yet? That you must try this? Okay, listen to this: I made the buckle to bring to the office to welcome a colleague back from her maternity leave, and would you believe I actually considered hiding the leftovers from her when she left at the end of the day, in the hopes that I'd get to take them home? Swear to God. A breast-feeding mother. That's how good this is.
(Uh, I made her take home the leftovers. I said I considered it, not that I actually did it. Sheesh.)
(I did have two pieces, though.)
(Should have kept a third.)
(Are you making this yet?)
Lemon Blueberry Buckle
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter, using a fork or your fingers to cut in the butter until it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.
Cake and assembly
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided
Crumb topping, chilled
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, three-fourths cup sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries.
6. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking.
7. While the cake is baking, make a lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. (The glaze will bubble while cooking and may need to be removed from the heat to check that it is the proper consistency.) Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over. Cool to room temperature. The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, covered in plastic wrap.