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This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.Growing up in Florida there wasn’t much opportunity for blackberry picking – too warm you see. Even in cooler Tennessee, where I was born and where my grandparents lived, I never managed to head up to the tree-covered hills just over the road – hills no doubt smothered with wild berries and mushrooms during the late summer and early fall.

Bears. Or rather, tales of bears put paid to intrepid trips with baskets and thick cotton gloves.

We did however have natural, free-ranging adventures during our extended summer visits. On my grandparent’s sprawling farm ran a pebble-studded creek (like a wide burn, if you are Scottish and reading this). At the time it was thrilling to explore, but thinking about it now I realise how uniquely blessed my sister and I were to be able to tramp nearly half a mile though high grass, around the fishing pond, skirt the well house, through a herd of cows, say hello to the bull in his field, and clamber down a steep, red clay bank to jump into freezing cold clear water. Would that happen today? I don’t think so.

This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.We would be gone hours, often with one of our aunts (two were quite adventurous), but just as often it would be us two lanky, gawky pre-teens setting off in foot-shredding flip-flops for an afternoon of arrow head and shark teeth collecting. This rural area outside of Nashville used to be rich with artefacts from epochs, even millennia, back. And as the creek would not infrequently flood (once even lifting the 1870s wooden general store and turning it nearly 180 degrees. It still stands today.), other interesting bits would wash down from the fields: gold, allegedly.

Today my Edinburgh-based adventures are limited to sneaking into the doctor’s car park at the weekend to pick from the untamed raspberry and blackberry bushes that line the perimeter. Over the years I reckon that I have had about 10 kilos of fruit from these rambling bramble bushes.

wild blackberries picked in the doctor's car park, a car park which is deserted at the weekends...

wild blackberries picked in the doctor’s car park, a car park which is deserted at the weekends…

I expect that sometime soon the hospital where I work will pay contractors to tear out this unexpected asset (to me anyway) and replace it with more asphalt. But for now it is just me most weekends during July and September, shredding my forearms and pricking my fingers in pursuit of one last berry to take home. It’s always that one berry that you can’t reach that is the fattest, most deeply-hued, black-blue juicy morsel. Hence the deep scratches.

I’m fairly positive that I am on CCTV entertaining the security chaps with my quasi-legal antics and messy sampling as I go. I have even given a cheeky wave. Maybe if I bring them this blackberry buckle they won’t tell the boss?…

This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.

Wild Blackberry Buckle {vegan and lower sugar}

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A smaller and healthier version of a beloved US-style dessert, this “buckle” is so-called (perhaps; no one knows really) because when you pour a load of fresh fruit onto a sizzling batter the whole thing buckles under the weight. Truly delicious with almost any ripe fruit, but blackberries – or in this case, Scottish wild brambles – are the best. Use plain unbleached flour to make it lighter, but I hope you like it with the wholegrain stuff. xx


100g (3/4 US cup) wholemeal flour (I use wholegrain spelt flour)

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp fine salt

¼ tsp ground cardamom (two-three green pods-worth)

2 tbsp (packed) muscovado or raw sugar

30g (1/4 cup) ground almonds/almond meal OR coarse cornmeal

150ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) almond milk or other milk

1 tsp real almond extract (optional)

The Rest

175g (1 & 1/3 cup) blackberries/brambles OR full-flavoured blueberries

1 tbsp demerara sugar/raw sugar (more if the berries seem bitter)

1 ½ tbsp extra virgin coconut butter or organic dairy butter

30g (slightly heaped 1/3 cup) flaked almonds

You will need: a 20cm diameter (small) well-seasoned cast-iron skillet for best results, or use a favourite pie pan of the same size. You want one that will help give a golden crust to the bake.

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

2. Make up the batter by dry-whisking the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom and stirring in the sugar and almond meal/cornmeal in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the almond milk and extract (if using) until you get a thick batter. Set aside for now.

3. Heat the butter in the pan until starting to foam/the coconut oil is completely melted and fragrant – I use a skillet so I heat the fat on my hob over a medium flame. Swirl the fat so that it comes up the sides a bit – you are wanting this buckle to have a crisp crust.

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

4. Spoon the batter onto the hot fat, but don’t spread it quite to the edge. Top with the berries, slighting pressing them into most of the exposed batter and piling the remainder on top. Sprinkle over the sugar. Immediately place in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges are crusty and firm.

5. During the last five minutes add the almonds to a small tray and pop them into the oven. Remove both pans from the oven and serve the blackberry buckle warm with ice cream, crème fraiche, yogurt and more fruit – sliced red plums are nice. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds – don’t forget them as they are really super on this pudding.This berry-studded, nutritious dessert (yes!) is a lower-fat and lower-sugar but completely delicious redux of an American classic, blackberry buckle. Think cardamom-scented batter loaded with deeply fragrant and juicy berries.. As it bakes in a minimal amount of butter it rises and, buckles and forms a delectable crust. Enjoy warm with custard or ice cream, or even cold for a fun breakfast.

A bigger slice? This recipe is easily doubled; use a larger pan and increase the baking time to 1 hour.

Another dimension? Add a small handful of chopped apples, and use a little less berries.

Nutrition, taste and preparation notes: Here is an accessible and factual article on SFGate, but basically blackberries (especially wild ones) are low in calories, high in fibre, chock full of disease-preventing ellagic acid and loads of vitamins and minerals and may help fight cognitive decline.

I try and eat some kind of wild berries every day, mostly ones I have picked and frozen. If you are out picking, chose an unpolluted, low-traffic area and pull off the deepest-coloured but still pluckable fruits (really ripe ones will disintegrate in your hand – picker’s perk). Other similar fruits to look for are listed here on Serious Eats.

When home, line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper and tumble the fruits onto it, whacking them into the freezer for at least an hour then pouring the frozen berries into labeled freezer bags.  They will keep up to a year quite well, and with little deterioration in nutritional value. Fresh or frozen berries are perfect for this low-sugar but deeply flavourful dessert. Defrost if frozen and pat with some paper towel. Foraged berries will have a spectrum of flavours. Depending on the hedgerow you happen upon you may find berries that taste faintly of cedar, cloves, or mint. The ones where I pick taste ever so gently of rose.

Nutrition Chart

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)** ORAC Value 5347 µmol**
**Nutritive Value per 100 g**

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 43 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 9.61 g 7%
Protein 1.39 g 2%
Total Fat 0.49 g 2%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 5.3 g 14%
Folates 25 µg 6%
Niacin 0.646 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.276 mg 5.5%
Pyridoxine 0.030 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.020 IU 2%
Vitamin A 214 IU 7%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Vitamin E 1.17 mg 8%
Vitamin K 19.8 µg 16.5%
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 162 mg 3%
Calcium 29 mg 3%
Copper 165 µg 18%
Iron 0.62 mg 8%
Magnesium 20 mg 5%
Manganese 0.646 mg 3%
Selenium 0.4 µg 1%
Zinc 0.53 mg 5%
Carotene-ß 128 µg
Carotene-a 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 118 µg

Recipes from others:

Blackberry-Tofu Brûlée – Fab Food 4 All

Blackberry Smoothie – Recipes From A Pantry

Fig & Blackberry Crumble (gluten-free) – Franglais Kitchen

Blackberry Buckle – Smitten Kitchen (this is like a coffee cake)

Another fruity skillet recipe from me – Plum-Berry Upside Down Skillet Cobbler

…and, if you have loads of berries, as well as freezing them why not make some fruit vinegar to0? Here’s my tried and trusted recipe. I’ve been making this for years.

51 thoughts on “Blackberry Buckle Recipe (vegan/lower-sugar) – An American Classic

  1. fabfood4all says:

    Oh my this looks just amazing Kellie and the photos look like they’re straight out of a cook book:-) Thanks for linking to my dessert;-)

    1. Aw, shucks Camilla. That’s awfully sweet of you to write that. And happy to have a nice fellow vegan recipe to link to 🙂

  2. This sounds wonderful and healthily delicious. Love your wonderful summer memories and I could see you two flip-flopping along 😉

    1. Hi Karin! Lovely to see that you’ve stopped by. Do you get many berries where you are?

  3. This looks delicious and the presentation is fantastic. Thank you for sharing! Definitely something I’m going to whip up next time my sister-in-law visits (she’s vegan).

  4. pdkizzy says:


  5. Shari says:

    This looks terrific. We have loads of blackberry and black raspberry bushes in our yard ,so I’m well stocked. Those were nice childhood memories as well.

  6. Love the story of your berry picking 🙂 You have a lovely way with words! This looks yummy, I do love fresh berries even though the seeds always get stuck in my teeth! 😉

  7. David says:

    Kellie, I really enjoyed your nostalgic look back in time—but you didn’t mention the snakes! Just kiddding. By the way, the general store has been replaced by a “modern” grocery store. Bye for now.

    1. Oh, Dad. The snakes. Mainly in the strawberries as I recall. I’m sad that the old store is no longer. I can’t believe it was there as long as it was though. I guess the old geezers playing checkers on an upturned barrel (like out of a Jim Beam advert) have gone too… Hung up their farm overalls and are now ploughing clouds by now, I imagine 😉

  8. Wow what an interesting recipe and it looks so easy to make in a skilled. Love blackberries but this seams like a really adaptable recipe too in terms of the fruit you could use.

  9. Oh, my goodness, yum! Love your berry picking stories, and I never knew you were born in Tennessee-somewhere I’ve never been before, but hear is beautiful. There are no wild blackberries growing in San Diego, but my parents grew their own boysenberries, and every summer I would pick them for Boysenberry Cobbler-funny, I’ve never eaten a buckle before-wonder if it’s a Southern thing….Can’t wait to make a gluten-free version of your yummy creation!

    1. It must be a southern thing although I know it has creeped into the Midwest too. Kind of like a grunt – another oddly named dish that doesn’t sound like something to eat! A gluten-free mix would be absolutely fine here. Not as fussy as for making scones. 🙂

  10. This looks amazing and is beautiful too! I love the way you photographed it. Thanks for sharing.


  11. larearte says:

    Looks perfect! 🙂 And the conjugation of colours in the photos are perfectly choosen. Beautiful! 🙂 Nice work and thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks. I assure you it was accidental!

  12. Looks sooo nice and tasty!

  13. Jacqueline Kerr says:

    Hi Kellie,

    Love the food and recipes, love the articles and writing style which is full of interesting images that take me back to my youth. Just not sure as an ex pat where you are living now. The U.S.A or Scotland.

    My daughter Robyn Foyster started the first online EMag, The Carousel in Australia but she could do well with you on her it; then I could spend hours checking food I love and other female related interests out daily. I am a five time survivor of breast cancer given six weeks to live while in the hospice 23 years ago, two mastectomies, 33 diseased lymph glands, lumpectomies you name it and so like you I know how precious life and food is – love your work and devotion to health.

    Best wishes, A devotee.


    Sent from my iPad


    1. Wow, that’s quite a story! I am humbled by your experience and your obvious joy for life. Thank you for your kind comments. That means a lot. All best to you and your daughter. Oh, I am in Edinburgh Scotland. I’ve lived half of my life here.

  14. lizzygoodthings says:

    Urban foraging… love it! A gorgeous recipe and story, Kellie… lovely photos too! xx

    1. Thanks so much Liz xx

  15. tiajaharris says:

    Wow this looks really good

  16. I so wish there were wild blackberries near where I live in Stockholm. At the family homestead they grow EVERYWHERE, and this year though we were back visiting quite early in the summer, thanks to an unusually dry and hot spring and summer the blackberries were already bursting. I got (slices from)not one but FOUR blackberry pies into my belly this summer, and I consider myself very lucky for that. This buckle looks a treat. I’ll have to substitute Swedish blueberries, which I think will be just great.

    1. Blueberries are also traditional. The ones we get as imports (some English ones, but I’ve never seen them) are not always super flavourful, but of course you guys grow them and they will be fab here. Really fab. And lucky you with all of the pies!

  17. nadiashealthykitchen says:

    This looks so delicious Kellie 😀 Berry picking sounds fun, I’ve never done it and I feel I’m missing out on a lot of fun! I live in a city centre so unfortunately for me I never come across wild growing berries.

  18. This looks and sounds absolutely mouthwatering. We have been spending weekends with the children hunting for blackberries, and your commentary on picking made me chuckle so much as it sounds just like me, always reaching, always wishing I were an inch taller!

    1. I’m not too wee Sarah, but these were massive, overgrown bushes and I was really trying to lean into them to pluck the hiding fruits. Not too successfully. Or painlessly 😉

  19. Top10sy says:

    Kelly, really you played amazing way with blackberry buckle, its looks completely yummy and delicious.

  20. Really amazing! We love berries and this recipe looks perfect. I can’t wait to do it.

  21. You have a gift of presentation. Looking at those pictures made my mouth water. It’s pretty much guaranteed that I will be thinking about blackberry buckle until I actually make one.

    1. Thanks. I love working with beautiful ingredients. It makes my job so much easier. 🙂

  22. adina says:

    I might manage to get 175 g blackberries from the bush behind the house to make this, I think we would all love it. we had a huge bush years ago that was totally getting out of control, my husband removed it, but now after 3 or 4 we have some new branches growing again. they grow like weeds around here, but are sooo delicious.

    1. Too bad it will take that long. In the post I mentioned that I thought it might not be long before all was removed from the doctor’s car park. The very next day – this is the God’s honest truth – groundsmen had razed it all to the ground (do they read food to glow??). I was shocked to say the least. I asked if it was to make way for more spaces and they said that it was just that the vines were affecting the parking (it was), and that they weren’t spraying anything on it. So, I guess it may be a few years before I can get back out there and sneakily forage again. thanks for taking the time to comment.

  23. Kayse says:

    Wow this is amazing! It looks delicious and photographed so beautifully.

    1. Thank you Kayse. Beautiful ingredients are always pretty easy to snap. They inspire!

  24. sammyd21 says:

    This looks delish – on the list of my things to try

  25. This looks amazing! Thnx for posting this wonderful recipe.

  26. m wales says:

    I’ve never tried that before, it looks delicious and I love that it’s vegan!

    1. And still hopefully appealing to non-vegans. Thanks so stopping by. 🙂

      1. m wales says:

        No problem 🙂

      2. m wales says:

        Apart from sweets I eat mostly vegan!

  27. It’s fun to read about other people’s blackberry adventures, as I can’t get enough of picking them too! I have yet managed to get fully ripe ones, so mine are always slightly reddish (blame it on being not able to wait another day!). I have not tried buckles before, yours looks absolutely divine! I must try it next blackberry season

    1. Thanks so much, Shannon. I didn’t realise that blackberries grew in Malaysia. I always think of them as cooler weather sorts of things (and why we didn’t have them in Florida). Interesting.

  28. Growing up outside of Memphis, TN, I have remembered adventures of not only blackberries, but the “chiggers” that eat your legs, and cause such an itching that you have to use a hairbrush on your legs to ease the itching!! LOL! Still have some of those little bugs scars to prove it. Ahh…the joys of living on 40 acres of land to play on! It was indeed a treat for us kids growing up. Now living in Atlanta, GA, everything is urban sprawl, so hard to find many wild berries. Wonder what the birds eat now instead?

  29. stateeats says:

    I am with you on risking flesh wounds for berries. This summer I picked tons in the Smoky Mountains. My husband and his sister turned their noses up when they realized they were foraged. They had no problem eating the exact same berries from the grocery, go figure. Oh well, more for me. -Kat

    1. And no doubt sprayed with with all sorts of anti fungals. Yuck. We are smart AND nourished. 🙂

  30. superfitbabe says:

    The blackberries looks divine! I love that you made this recipe vegan too <3

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