Buckle vs. coffee cake: what’s the difference? Technically, “buckle” is a cake made with fruit added to the batter and topped with streusel. And coffee cake? It’s any cake-like baked good that’s intended to be served with coffee (or the hot drink of your choice).
You can experience the best of both buckle and coffee cake with our Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake: a streusel-topped, blueberry-packed cake that’s perfect for breakfast or dessert.
Now that we’ve got our buckles and coffee cakes straightened out, we’ll show you how to make the recipe. We’ll even include a make-ahead tip that’ll allow you to serve this blueberry buckle fresh from the oven without any prep in the morning.
Let’s see how it’s done.
Smart bakers always start by gathering all their ingredients. This ensures you have everything you need before you get started.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make your scrumptious Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake —
For the streusel topping:
- 1/3 cup (67g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (57g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57g) butter
For the cake:
- 2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (149g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57g) butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (113g) milk
- 2 cups (283g) fresh or frozen blueberries
Fresh or frozen berries?
One of the reasons why this recipe is so lovable is because you can make it with fresh or frozen berries. If you have fresh berries to show off, fantastic! They’ll do this recipe justice.
Or if it’s the middle of the winter and fresh local berries are nowhere to be seen, head to the freezer section and use frozen berries. This blueberry buckle will still be delicious.
If you decide to use frozen berries, be sure to read this article before getting started: The secret to baking with frozen blueberries. The test kitchen tip that’s revealed will prevent the batter from getting stained with berry juice.
Prepare to bake
If you’d like to bake your blueberry buckle right away, preheat the oven to 375°F. We’ll offer make-ahead instructions that allow you to make the batter the night before; if you’re taking this approach, preheat your oven in the morning, about 20 to 30 minutes before putting the blueberry buckle in the oven.
You can use a number of different pans to bake this recipe: an 8” square, a 9” square, or a 9” round cake pan. If you choose the 8” square pan or round pan, make sure it’s at least 2” deep. These pans have less surface area than the 9” square, so the cake will rise higher. Prevent batter from overflowing in the oven by making sure your pan is the right depth.
Whichever pan you choose, lightly grease it before you do anything else. (I prefer using our Everbake Pan Spray, a tried and tested non-stick spray.) If you prepare your pan first, it ensures you won’t forget to grease it later on and find yourself in a sticky situation.
Make the streusel topping
Now that your pan is prepared, it’s time to get your hands on the ingredients. Start by weighing your flour into a small bowl. If you don't have a scale, you can measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. (For a visual demonstration of this technique, check out our tutorial: How to Measure Flour.)
Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt to the flour.
Work the room temperature butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips, or if you prefer, a tool. Handy options include a pastry blender, the side of a fork, or two knives.
Use whatever works to cut the butter into the mixture until it reaches a crumbly, sandy consistency. In the hot summer months, it's helpful to use tools to keep the butter from melting. (Your warm fingers will melt the butter more quickly.)
Place the topping aside while you get ready to make the batter.
Measure the dry ingredients for the cake into a large mixing bowl: the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend them together and set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla extract together. A stand mixer or electric hand mixer is the easiest way to bring these ingredients together. If you’re determined, you can probably get away with using a spoon if you mix vigorously.
The mixture should look fully combined with no chunks of butter, sugar, or egg remaining in the bowl. You don’t need to mix so much that it becomes light and fluffy, but the mixture should look smooth.
Next, add about half of the milk. If your milk is cold from the fridge, it helps to warm up it up slightly. This will keep the batter smooth and homogenized. Otherwise, the butter may clump when cold milk is added. This won’t harm your final product, but it can make the batter look lumpy, making a hesitant baker nervous. Your choice!
Mix the batter on medium-low speed until it’s incorporated. Then add about half of the flour and mix for 10 to 15 seconds more.
Scrape down any residual, sticky bits on the side of the bowl. Then repeat this process, adding the second half of the milk, then the flour. Scrape the bowl one final time before giving the batter a few more turns to ensure it's fully mixed.
Stir only as much as necessary to make the batter smooth. Any extra mixing can make your blueberry buckle tough rather than tender.
Add the blueberries
Now it’s time for the fun part: the blueberries! Make sure your berries are rinsed and dried, then add them to the batter.
Use gentle folding motions to ensure the blueberries are incorporated into the batter.
The blueberry buckle batter is quite thick, so you don't need to worry about your berries sinking to the bottom of the pan. There's no need to dust them with flour before folding them into the batter. Just go for it!
Pan and top
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Shake it back and forth a few times to make sure the batter is level and reaches the edges of the pan.
To bake your buckle now:
If you’re baking the blueberry buckle right away, sprinkle the gorgeous streusel you prepared over the top of the batter. Distribute it evenly, making sure the edges get just as much streusel as the center. (No one likes ending up with the slice without very much topping!)
This Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake needs about 40 to 45 minutes in the oven to bake through fully. A toothpick or sharp knife inserted into the center should come out clean when it’s fully baked.
You can also borrow a tip from our blog article, How to tell when cake is done, since buckle is essentially cake. When your kitchen smells fragrant — in this case, like sugar, butter, vanilla, and berries — it’s time to take a peek.
If the smell is strong enough to make you pause and breathe deeply, the blueberry buckle is probably close to done
To make ahead:
If you’re preparing the blueberry buckle to bake the next morning, pause once the batter is in the pan and you haven’t yet added the streusel. Cover with plastic or your favorite reusable wrap and put it in the fridge overnight. (The streusel can stay at room temperature.)
The next day, add the streusel, then bake for 55 to 60 minutes. This is a slightly extended bake time to account for the chilled batter and pan.
Cool and serve
Once the blueberry buckle has finished baking, remove it from the oven. Set it on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. I often serve this buckle right from the pan, since it can be tricky to remove a streusel-topped cake without losing all its topping.
If you’re determined to serve it on a pretty platter, loosen the sides of the buckle with a knife or spatula. Hold the pan in your left hand; use an oven mitt if the pan is still hot to the touch. Gently tip the buckle out onto on to a plate, trying to keep the streusel intact.
Remove the pan and turn the buckle back over so it’s right-side up. If you know you’d like to remove the blueberry buckle from the pan before serving, you can use the back of a spatula to press the streusel into the batter slightly before baking. This will help the topping stay put when you turn it over.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll end up with any leftovers — this blueberry buckle is so scrumptious, it’s hard to resist! However, if you somehow end up with a few pieces left over, you can store it at room temperature, well-wrapped or in an airtight container, for several days.
If it’s particularly humid or warm in your kitchen, consider storing your buckle in the fridge to keep it fresh until you’re ready for an amazing snack.
Reheat the blueberry buckle before serving for the most enjoyable eating experience. (You can cover the buckle with foil and put it in a 350°F oven for about 5 to 10 minutes so it's warm all the way to the center. Or if you prefer, warm individual slices in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until it's just the temperature you're looking for.)
Make gluten-free Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake
Looking to make a blueberry-packed dish that's gluten-free? Simply replace the all-purpose flour in both the batter and the streusel with our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour 1:1. No other ingredients changes are necessary.
Gluten-free baked goods often need a few more minutes in the oven to bake through completely, so be prepared to bake your gluten-free Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake for 5 to 10 minutes longer than the stated bake time (about 50 to 55 minutes total if the batter hasn't been refrigerated; add 5 more minutes if it's been chilled overnight). This will ensure the center of the blueberry buckle is fully cooked and the sweet streusel topping is nicely caramelized.
Blueberry buckle: Breakfast or dessert
This cake is absolutely magical when it’s served warm. The blueberries burst with flavor and juiciness, adding something special to an already beloved treat: the classic coffee cake.
Serve it for breakfast or brunch alongside coffee or tea. Or, make it a perfect summer dessert by serving it with freshly whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream, or a simple dusting of sugar.
Bake this recipe once, then try it again replacing half of the all-purpose flour with White Whole Wheat Flour. You'll love starting off the day with a slice of blueberry, whole grain goodness.
Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake is a recipe everyone will love: fruit, spice, and a perfectly crunchy streusel topping.
How do you make your coffee cakes and buckles special? Do you add fruit, extracts, or perhaps make extra streusel topping? Share your favorite ways to jazz up this timeless treat in the comments, below.
Thanks to Anne Mientka for taking the photographs for this post.