A Christmas in Sacramento: Alton Brown’s Blueberry Buckle

If we had a dog, he would know that something’s up. The work shirts have been to the cleaners, the prescriptions have been filled, the Gramma chair in our bedroom is stacked with “don’t forgets,” I spent the morning grinding coffee beans, the big suitcase is out, and the refrigerator is almost empty. We’re leaving for the Sweetie’s two month Sacramento project on Monday, start date Tuesday.  

At least Sacramento is familiar—we’ll be downtown in the same hotel as last year; Sweetie will work for the same hospital group and drive the same short side-street commute. For me, there’s a bus stop in front of the hotel, a Goodwill down the block, an edgy Grocery Outlet Bargain Market a short walk away, a 24 Hour Fitness pool within a 10 minute bus ride, the Crocker Art Museum, the Sacramento Delta, and access to San Francisco’s BART system. This year I’ll try to explore more; the weather should be in the range of beautiful to scorching; but Sacramento is the “City of Trees” which makes getting out and about on foot bearable. 


I look forward to spending time in the State Capitol Park’s rose garden and eating Gogi tacos in the outdoor patio, tomatoes from the Cesar Chavez Plaza farmers market, shu mei dumplings from the Sunday Asian Market, and pupusas at La Flor—as you can see, I travel on my stomach. 

I’ll enjoy reading two daily newspapers, having someone clean the room once a week, setting the wastebasket outside the door every night, running errands on foot, and weekend waffles.

I’ll miss our cozy house, drinking good coffee, cooking with an oven, using substantial forks and spoons, swimming with my pool friends, visiting with our friends/neighbors Bill and Glenda, spending all day with the Sweetie, and seeing my Ginny.  But we will be back in November and there will be new and exotic stories to tell, although Joan Didion may disagree with the exotic stories part. As she once said, “Anyone who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.”

I recently saw this Alton Brown recipe on Kitchn. Although I haven’t made it yet, it is definitely calling my name.

Blueberry Buckle



•3 1/2 ounces sugar

•1 1/2 ounces cake flour

•1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)

•4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cubed and chilled)


•9 ounces cake flour

•1 teaspoon baking powder

•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

•1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

•4 tablespoons unsalted butter (left at room temperature for 30 minutes (or until instant-read thermometer stuck into the middle reads about 60 degrees F))

•5 1/4 ounces sugar

•1 large egg

•1/2 cup whole milk

•15 ounces fresh blueberries


Combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg in a small bowl then work in the butter, using a fork to combine. Keep “forking” until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Set aside. (Note: If you have a pastry cutter, now’s the time to use it.)


Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch square GLASS baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Reduce the speed a bit and thoroughly incorporate the egg. Reduce the speed to low (or “stir” on a Kitchenaid) and add one-third of the flour mixture. Once incorporated, add one-third of the milk then repeat alternating until all ingredients are combined.

Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle on the topping mixture.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes: 1 (9-inch) Cake

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