apple blood orange buckle

apple blood orange buckle
Brian and I have both been burning the candle on both ends as well as at a couple points in the middle lately, so when we were invited to brunch with friends to meet their new baby, we needed something to bring that was delicious and, more importantly, easy to make. Looking around the kitchen the morning of, I saw the makings of blood orange apple buckle and that’s pretty good luck.

Lately it hasn’t taken much more than “blood orange” to pique my interest. I’m in love with their sweet-tart taste and a buckle turned out to be the perfect vehicle for them. This silky, moist cake is studded with apples, and gets some citrus-y kick from fragrant blood oranges. The whole thing is topped off with a buttery crumb topping, a blood orange glaze, and just a pinch of sea salt. It turned out to be a perfect thing to bring to a brunch with friends, simple and delicious and beautiful in its home-y sort of way. But the real proof of this buckle’s belovedness was that, despite a first course of note, no one had just one piece.

apple blood orange buckle
Blood Orange Apple Buckle

for the crumb topping
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
zest of 1 blood orange
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9” round baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and zest in a small bowl. Using your fingers, mix in the softened butter until the mixture is sandy with small chunks. Set the bowl in your freezer while you prepare the cake.

for the cake

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons blood orange zest
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, or 1/2 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups apples, sliced 1/4-inch thick and cut in half

for the glaze

1/4 cup blood orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
sea salt

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, salt, zest, and nutmeg. In another bowl, use a beater to whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and beat for several minutes more until mixture is airy and pale. With mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, and then add the buttermilk. Scrape the sides if needed. Gradually add in the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Fold in 1 cup of apples.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Scatter the remaining apples over the top, and gently press into the batter. Next, use a spoon to scatter the chilled crumb topping evenly. Bake cake for 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and blood orange juice, and cook over medium heat just until dissolved. Keep the mixture warm while the cake bakes.

Remove cake from oven and immediately drizzle with the glaze. Sprinkle a touch of sea salt over the top. Cool for 30 minutes and serve.


  1. BER says

    Hi This looks very good, and mine is now filling the kitchen with good smells. I winged it on the amount of zest required for the cake portion, using the zest from two blood oranges. We will see how it goes, but if the smell is any indication it should be fine.

    Thanks so much for this recipe. Best,BER

  2. says

    Hi BER, So glad you’re giving this a try! Thanks for noticing that my recipe was a bit unclear–I left out the “juice” for the blood orange juice in the glaze portion of the recipe. Hopefully it’s more clear now. As far as I’m concerned, zest is a matter of taste, so you can never go wrong with winging it.

  3. bluz says

    This looks divine! I was wondering what type of apples you used since you didn’t specify. I’m wondering if I used granny smith if it would turn out too sour.

    • says

      Hi Bluz, I kind of don’t like granny smiths–I find them to be too grassy and hard, though they might add a nice brightness to the recipe. For this cake, my preference would be a flavorful apple with a slightly softer bite like an Empire, Gala, Crispin, or Mac. Now that we’re in to storage apples, any crisp apple will do.

  4. johanne says

    you mention mix in the sugar and cream… what is the percentage and amount of cream..for the cake ? also zest for the cake i guess 2 oranges…is very good too… guessing by my taste. thankyou

  5. Liz says

    You say combine flours but I only see one instance of flour for the cake part. Is there an ingredient missing or is that just a typo? Thanks!


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