Making EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival’s Warm Berry Buckle!

Happy weekend, friends! It seems only fitting with the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival starting this Wednesday that we re-create a classic recipe from the festival. Classic in the sense that it is not being offered, and classic in the sense that it is filled with tons of berries and a lovely vanilla cake. Plus, it’s the perfect thing for today since it’s National Strawberry Day. It’s also perfect for a Tuesday. Or pretty much any other day on the calendar.

The Warm Berry Buckle was originally offered at The Berry Basket Outdoor Kitchen in 2017. It was also originally topped with pepper berry gelato, which sounds somewhat intriguing and just slightly savory. Today’s version of the recipe is found in the Disney Festivals Cookbook, which as a side note, is worth every penny spent on it. If you have an opportunity to purchase this cookbook, I highly recommend grabbing a copy. It’s all of the favorites from festivals both here at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and it’s a gem.

The at-home version of today’s recipe has us topping the buckle with strawberry ice cream, and that’s just fine with me. If you’d like to top it with pepper berry gelato or another favorite or exotic flavor, you do you. I’ll be sticking with strawberry for today, but maybe I’ll spice things up in the future. One quick note about the ingredients picture above: I was gathering the ingredients for two Saturdays worth of snacks at the same time and it proved to just be a little bit too much for my brain. Please omit the cupcake liners and pretend that salt and vanilla extract are in the picture. Ahem.

I began the work on this recipe by answering one fundamental question: what is the difference between a cobbler and a buckle? Why not just call it a cobbler? It looks like a cobbler and it’ll probably taste like a cobbler, so why isn’t it a cobbler? As they always do, the internets had the answer. Simply stated, a cobbler features fruit with a biscuit-like topping. A buckle is a combination of fruit and cake that is baked together and has a strudel/streusel topping. Today’s recipe definitely fits into the description of a buckle. Basically, we’re going to make little layered cakes featuring a delicious vanilla cake, a sweet berry compote, and a delightful streusel topping that you’re going to want to shove into your mouth by the handful.

To start things off, you’re going to want to pull your mixed berries out of the freezer, measure them out and allow them to defrost. I ended up needing to use my microwave to help finish off the defrosting process. There’s no shame in using your microwave to speed up the process.

You’re also going to want to wash your 2 cups of fresh blueberries and then wash and quarter your 2 cups of fresh strawberries at this point. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 325° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This is also the perfect time to pop your half cup of butter into the microwave and get things nice and melted. You’ll need the melted butter for the streusel portion of the recipe.

This recipe is broken into three parts: creating the the berry compote, creating the oatmeal streusel topping, and creating the cake. The recipe calls for us to use eight 8-ounce ramekins in order to get eight individually-sized buckles. My trusty ramekins are of the 6-ounce variety, so I knew that I either had to hold back on the amount of ingredients that I placed in each ramekin or I had to plow full steam ahead and load those ramekins up knowing that things might bubble over. Maybe it was the week that I was having, or the fact that I love all things berries, but I decided to put the pedal to the metal and move full steam ahead. I loaded those ramekins up knowing that some of those yummy ingredients might just bubble over. Just a bit of foreshadowing: bubble over they did, but man did it make for a delicious snack. I digress. I don’t want get too far ahead of myself.

The recipe calls for us to make the berry compote using an immersion blender. It always makes me giggle just a bit when I see an immersion blender called for in a recipe, because it reminds me that Emeril used to call his immersion blender a boat motor. Since I am one immersion blender short, I knew that my regular handy dandy blender would have to do. And, thankfully, it did. Into my blender I tossed 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of orange juice, a half cup of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

I gave everything a whirl and then added in the thawed blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and one cup of the fresh strawberries. Using the purée setting, I kept things whirring right along until the mixture was smooth.

I transferred the contents of the mixture from the blender into a large bowl and then gently folded in the 2 cups of fresh blueberries and the remaining cup of fresh strawberries. Once everything was folded in, I set the bowl aside.

Now comes the time to tackle the oatmeal streusel that’s going to top the whole shebang. In a separate bowl, toss in 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of oatmeal. Whisk everything around until it’s nice and combined, and then pour the half cup of melted butter into the bowl.

Mix everything together until the dry ingredients are coated in the melted butter, and pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.

Pop that sheet into the oven for 8 minutes and then let it cool for 20 minutes once it’s done. Crumble the streusel topping when it’s cool, and please taste it. It’s delightful.

We’ve already made it two-thirds of the way through the recipe already, and every single step is going to be so worth it in the end. I promise. Hang in there! For the cake portion of the recipe, you want to keep the oven at 325°. Grab your ramekin dishes and coat them with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Give everything the swish of a whisk to make sure that it’s combined completely, and set the bowl aside.

Using a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the 1/3 cup of shortening and 1 cup of sugar together until they are, as the recipe says, fluffy.

I’m not sure that my shortening and sugar combination ever quite reached the “fluffy” stage, but they looked somewhat lighter and more like powdery snow than they did when I started out, so I consider that fluffy. I was hoping it would do, and do it did. At the fluffy stage, you want to beat in the two eggs, one at a time. The recipe asks us to make sure to scrape down the sides of the mixer/bowl, so try to make sure to do that. You want all of the ingredients down in the middle of the bowl getting happy and mixed in.

Once the two eggs are thoroughly combined, add in half of the flour mixture and half of the 2/3 cup of milk. Mix after the first additions, and then add the remaining flour and milk. After all of the flour and milk are thoroughly combined, add in 3/4 of a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

The recipe now calls for us to place 1/3 cup of the cake batter into the bottom of each of our prepared ramekins.

On top of the cake batter we are to add 1/3 cup of berry compote. This is where I started channeling a mad scientist and, instead of lessening the amount of ingredients to take my smaller ramekins into account, I added the full amount. I completely knew what I was doing, but I wanted to see what would happen, so load those babies up I did.

I placed my ramekins on top of a parchment-lined baking pan to keep everything wrangled and in order, and put the pan into the oven. The recipe calls for us to keep the ramekins in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake in each ramekin is set. I decided to keep them in for a total 30 minutes. At 25, they just weren’t quite done enough.

As I’ve already alluded to, my loading each 6-ounce ramekin like it was an 8-ounce ramekin caused the cake top of each of the buckles to overflow onto the pan. And to be honest, I giggled like a child on Christmas morning when the pan came out of the oven. I couldn’t care less that they didn’t look perfect; I knew they were going to be delicious. I knew that this Flower and Garden Festival recipe wasn’t going to let us down. And I was right.

I let the ramekins cool for five minutes and then inverted one onto a plate. Some of the cake that was in the bottom of each ramekin that was now supposed to be on top, decided to stay inside of the ramekins. I used a spoon to scoop it out and placed it on top.

The recipe then calls for us to add oatmeal streusel to the top of each buckle and then top the whole thing with a scoop of strawberry ice cream.

When it comes to the amount of oatmeal streusel used for each buckle, you do you. You’re in charge here. You’re the boss, and you can use as much or as little of that amazing sweet cinnamon streusel as you want. Me being me, I used a good amount.

Friends, this was amazingly good. The warm berry buckle combined with the sweet and spicy streusel and the cool ice cream made for an epic Saturday Snacks recipe.

It may not be a picture fit for a cookbook, but it is a dessert fit for a weekend, to be sure. The bright, citrusy berry compote was the perfect foil for the vanilla cake. And I wanted to shove that streusel in my mouth all on its own.

When you take a bite, make sure to try to get a little bit of everything: ice cream, streusel, cake, and those amazing berries. And savor every single morsel.

I ate an entire buckle right off the bat. It was my lunch, and I wasn’t mad about it at all. For the record, I did end up eating a turkey sandwich later, but, if you get the opportunity, definitely eat dessert first. Especially when it’s this dessert.

Just in case you have leftover ramekins of berry buckle, know that you can place a piece of foil on top of each one and pop those babies into the refrigerator. When you’re ready to enjoy a Warm Berry Buckle, take the foil off of one, stick it in the microwave for just a bit to reheat it, and build that dessert like it just came out of the oven. Ice cream, streusel, and all. It’s EPCOT festival food on demand, and it’s a lovely thing.

Whether you’ll be visiting this year’s Taste of EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival or you’ll be sitting this year out, you and I now have a way to invite a taste of the festival into our very own kitchens. This is a treat that I will make again. It’s just that good.

What flavors are you inviting into your kitchen these days? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Whatever flavors you’re savoring this weekend, I hope that they are simply delicious. May your weekend be filled with light and love, and just a little something sweet.

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!

Ready to give the Warm Berry Buckle a try? The recipe is below:

Warm Berry Buckle

Makes 8

BERRY COMPOTE
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup frozen blackberries, thawed
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2cup frozen blueberries, thawed
2 cup quartered fresh strawberries, divided
2 cups fresh blueberries

OATMEAL STREUSEL
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter, melted

CAKE
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

TOPPING
Strawberry ice cream

FOR BERRY COMPOTE:

  1. Combine lemon juice, orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add thawed blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and 1 cup of the fresh strawberries. Puree using an immersion blender until smooth.
  2. Gently fold in the fresh blueberries and remaining 1 cup of strawberries.
  3. Set aside.

FOR OATMEAL STREUSEL:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Mix all-purpose flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, and oatmeal in a medium bowl. Pour melted butter over dry ingredients and mix until wet.
  3. Sprinkle on prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes and crumble.

FOR CAKE:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray eight 8-ounce ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream shortening and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure to scrape the sides of the mixer.
  5. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture, and half of the milk, mixing well. Add remaining flour and milk. Mix in vanilla.

TO SERVE:

  1. Place 1/3 cup of cake batter in the bottom of each prepared ramekin. Top with 1/3 cup of berry compote.
  2. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until cake is set.
  3. Cool for 5 minutes. Turn warm berry buckles onto a plate. Top with oatmeal streusel and strawberry ice cream.