We are gently easing into that rich season of abundance, found in farmers' lands.

And if anyone knows how to make or bake the perfect treat from the earth's bounty -- it would certainly be a farmer's wife.

Just recently, a handful of Ontario Tender Fruit Growers' wives unlocked their special recipe boxes to share family favourites in the baked goods department. With the availability of fresh Ontario tender fruit around the corner, these delicious treasures feature the best of summer's harvest -- peaches, nectarines, plums, pears and Coronation grapes -- creating flavours that only fresh, local and seasonal fruits can provide.

Agnes Wiens' Coronation Grape Buckle is the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea. Each bite of this flavourful dessert is texturally pleasing with its dense cake, sweetly flavoured grape filling and crispy topping.


While some call it a cobbler or a crumble, Agnes Wiens prefers the old-fashioned term buckle -- dense cake, layered with a sweetly flavoured grape filling, topped with a crispy streusel. Agnes has been making this recipe for her husband Abe and their four children since the early 1970s *correction, early 1990s*. And now, as their family expands, their four grandchildren get to enjoy it on the family farm, Wiens Family Farms, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.


3 Tbsp. (45 ml) cornstarch
2 cups (500 ml) de-stemmed Coronation table grapes (fresh or frozen)
2/3 cup (150 ml) sugar
1/8 cup (25 ml) water
1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) lemon juice

Streusel Topping:

1/3 cup (75 ml) flour
1/4 cup (50 ml) granulated sugar
1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp.(1 ml) salt
1/4 cup (50 ml) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Cake Batter:

3/4 cup (175 ml) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. (7 ml) vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups (325 ml) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. (7 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt


Add cornstarch into a measuring cup and add enough water to make 1/3 cup (75 ml) liquid; set aside. Add grapes, sugar, water and lemon juice into a pot and stir to combine (if using frozen grapes, include any ice that has formed). Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil; cook for 5 to 10 minutes, continuing to stir. Add cornstarch to grape mixture and continue to cook until it no longer looks cloudy from the cornstarch mixture, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and transfer grape filling into a bowl; cool to room temperature. Do not skip this step. When assembling the buckle, if the filling is not at room temperature, it will bubble and overflow, creating a mess in your oven.

Streusel Topping:

In medium bowl, add flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter. Using fingertips, work butter into dry ingredients, until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Refrigerate for later use.

Cake Batter:

With a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend butter, sugar and vanilla together until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time until well blended. In separate bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined.

Assembling the Buckle:

Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Grease and flour a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan and pour in cake batter. Drop spoonfuls of grape filling on top of the batter and gently swirl with a butter knife, creating a marble effect over the surface area. Top with the streusel mixture and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

PER SERVING (1/10th recipe):
about 433 cal, 4 g pro, 20 g total fat (12 g sat fat), 60 g carb, 1 g fibre, 105 mg chol, 239 mg sodium. %RDI: 18% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 8% iron.

Tip: To reduce preparation time, grape filling may be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to two days, but be sure to bring it to room temperature before assembling the buckle.

Tip: Freezing grapes is simple. Wash, dry and de-stem grapes. Pack in airtight containers and freeze. No sugar is required because the natural high sugar and acid level in Ontario Coronation table grapes act as a natural preservative. Eat as a snack right from the freezer. Frozen grapes can replace fresh grapes in every recipe as they retain their intense colour and flavour and hold their shape when thawed. When using frozen grapes for preserves, thaw in refrigerator just until crushable.


Lisa said...

I have this goal: To have a real vacation, be a tourist and come visit you. Then perhaps, I will experience cooking with grapes. It's a foreign concept to this prairie girl.

Carolynn said...

I'd love to have you!! You could also get work to send you to Toronto or Niagara Falls! And then spend a couple extra days. We could do an exchange of sorts, I'll supply the grapes and you supply the Saskatoons (I'm missing them right now).