Whole grain mixed berry buckle recipe (gluten and dairy-free versions, too!) - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Whole grain mixed berry buckle recipe (gluten and dairy-free versions, too!)

whole grain mixed berry buckle | pamela salzman

I am so behind planning my Father’s Day menu!  I was just a lazy bones in Mexico last week and for some reason didn’t really have Father’s Day on the brain, but now here it is, coming up in 5 quick little days.   I have my father coming into town this weekend which is an extra special treat.  Most Father’s Day menus I’ve seen floating on the web all focus on the grill.  If I didn’t know any dads, I would assume from Pinterest that they are all obsessed with huge slabs of grilled steak.  And beer.  And maybe most of them are!  But that is not the way to my husband’s heart or my father’s.  And it’s probably better that way since my husband inherited off-the-charts cholesterol levels and my dad has had his share of arterial plaque.  Oy.  I think I’ll make a fruit dessert!!

lots of berries

Truth be told, my husband loves fruit desserts, especially pies and crisps.  And cobblers and crumbles.  And tarts.  Wink, wink.  In my May classes this year, I taught this absolutely delicious (and pretty clean fruit buckle.)  You have surely heard of the other desserts I mentioned, but most people have no idea what a buckle is.  And neither did I a year ago.  But my life was incomplete without it.

topping ingredients

A buckle is more cake-like than crisps and crumbles and cobblers.  In fact, I liken a buckle to a coffee cake but with double or triple the fruit.  Whereas I have seen pictures of buckles with varying amounts of fruit, all buckles have some sort of a streusel or textured topping, which makes the cake looked “buckled.”  I absolutely love fruit desserts because I absolutely love fresh fruit, but also because you can swap different fruit according to the season and make cool combinations of fruits, too.  I never over-sweeten fruit desserts because I like the true fruit flavor to shine through and not be muddled by too much sugar.  The most popular (and best) fruit to use in a buckle are blueberries.  Because the cake contains so much fruit, it can get a bit wet with too many peaches, strawberries or plums.  Blueberries aren’t overly juicy and they’re skins make them a little heartier.  In the recipe I photographed here, I used half blueberries, one quarter raspberries and one quarter blackberries.buckle before baking

In healthifying a typical buckle, I used whole grain spelt flour and as little sweetener as I could.  Also, I kept the topping crispy and crunchy, but minimal, and without adding a whole extra stick of butter and tons of sugar.  Everyone loved it, including my husband and three kids.  I think a fruit buckle is just as nice for brunch as it is for dessert after a barbecue or dinner party.  If you were serving it for brunch, just leave it as is and maybe have some plain Greek yogurt on the side.  For dessert, more than one of my students suggested a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top would make the buckle that much better.

whole grain mixed berry buckle | pamela salzman

The downside of buckles is that they don’t last too long on the countertop before getting a bit soggy.  They are best eaten the day of, especially if wet fruit was used.  It will certainly keep in the refrigerator for several days, but the cake loses that lovely soft texture.  If you want to make this for Father’s Day and you have a lot going on the day of, here’s what you can do ahead of time:

  • topping can be made the day before
  • dry mix can be combined the day before
  • place your butter out the night before

Then assembling and baking the next day should not take much time at all.  Most fruit desserts are much better if baked at least a few hours ahead so they can cool a bit.  This included.  On a side note, I am still working out the kinks on my new site.  Clearly, I have some formatting issues to figure out!  Stand by!

whole grain mixed berry buckle | pamela salzman

whole grain mixed berry buckle | pamela salzman

whole grain mixed berry buckle recipe (gluten and dairy-free versions, too!)
Recipe type: serves 6-8
  • For Topping:

  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated cane sugar (don’t use all coconut sugar – it doesn’t work well)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • Coconut oil or butter for greasing pan
  • 1 ½ cup whole spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated cane sugar (or use all coconut sugar)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk (sub kefir or half yogurt, half milk), at room temperature**
  • 4 cups mixed berries (quarter strawberries if using), divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 square or 9 inch round pan with coconut oil or butter.
  2. To make topping, combine almonds, sugars, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the sugars and butter until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and then beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the flour mixture ⅓ at a time, pouring in ½ of the buttermilk in between each time, ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Stir until just combined, scraping down the sides if necessary. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in half of the mixed berries.
  7. Pour batter into dish and spread evenly. Distribute remaining berries on top and push them down into the batter slightly to sink in. Sprinkle with topping and bake for 50-60 minutes until batter is set. Time will depend on size of baking dish and types of berries used.
*Gluten-free: sub ¾ c. GF oat flour + ¾ c. King Arthur GF flour + ½ t. xanthan gum

**Dairy-free: sub ⅓ cup coconut milk + enough water to make ½ cup total + ½ Tbs. white vinegar


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  1. This looks great! Do you think I could sub flax eggs?

    • Thanks! Flax eggs would probably work, but I haven’t tried it yet. I think it would work just fine in the regular version, not so sure about GF version.

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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