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Sincere Acts of Sweetness

August 1, 2010

Blissful Berry Buckle

Many of you are probably wondering why my blog posts have become so infrequent. For months now I’ve been struggling with what to do with the blog as it has become a bit of a love-hate relationship. It’s perplexing because it has been such an important part of my life. And although I can honestly say it still is, it’s evolved into something very different. Much of this has to do with where I am in my life now; there have been a lot of changes.
Last year, my marriage unraveled, fell apart, and ultimately ended. I managed to pick of the pieces and move on, but the blog took the biggest blow as my attention span was forced to widen to a world outside of my kitchen.

It didn’t occur to me until a few months ago why my blog, something I loved and cherished so much for so many years, had become something I avoided. For years I was in the type of marriage where everything seemed fine but deep down, we were in trouble and I felt terribly alone. Looking back now I knew then that things were not good but I refused to admit to myself what was happening and that’s right around the time that I started blogging. I guess you could say I stuck my head into the proverbial batter.

Through baking and blogging I received lots of attention, praise, adoration, and encouragement (thank you all so much for that!). It was the perfect distraction. Without really realizing it, I found a proxy to give me everything I was lacking emotionally in my marriage and somehow it bridged the gap. The more I baked and posted the more feedback I’d receive and the happier and less alone I felt. But during those late nights while I stayed up to finish a cake, I couldn’t help but to think about how my marriage was eroding and how hopeless I felt, how unhappy I really was. But eventually I had to face reality and in what seems like a blink now, it was all over. I was a single mom with a mortgage and baking seemed like the last thing on earth I wanted to do.

I took the time to tell my friends and family about my failed marriage, but it occurred to me that I’ve never taken the time to tell you. It wasn't until this very moment that I felt like the time was right to share this news with you.

Today, I am a much happier and confident that I’m where I am supposed to be. I feel really hopeful about my future and although I do have my days, life is good. As for the blog, well, I’m not really sure what will become of it. Maybe the blog will evolve to become more than just about baking. After all, there’s more to me than just the sweets I whip up in my kitchen; perhaps it’s time the blog follow suit.

For now, though I leave you with a very special Berry Buckle I made back on a Valentines Day. The combination of lemon and buttermilk gives this buckle a zesty edge but the berries soften it just enough to keep it from being overwhelming. It was so delectable I barely had time to take pictures before it was fully consumed.
Blissful Berry Buckle
Yield: It really depends on how you cut it, but plan on 6 to 8 servings.
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
zest of 1 medium normal-sized lemon (avoid zesting any green rind)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 medium (normal) sized lemon (avoid zesting any green rind)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup of buttermilk, at room temperature
2 cups of fresh strawberries, raspberries, and/or blueberries (you can use frozen fruit too)

Lemon Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
juice of 2 medium sized lemons (avoid the giant lemons)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Generously butter (you'll need an additional tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature) a 9" square baking pan and set aside.

To make the crumb topping, mix the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest together in a bowl. Add the butter and use a fork, your fingers, or pastry cutter to cut the butter until it is the size of peas and looks crumby. Evenly spread the crumb topping onto a plate and place it in the freezer.

To make the cake, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beaters at least once, until it turns white and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 30 seconds each, scraping the bowl and the beaters in between eggs. Stir in the flour in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Gently fold in half of the berries (1 cup). Pour the batter into your prepared pan, smooth out the surface, and evenly distribute the remaining berries over the surface of the batter.Sprinkle the chilled crumb topping evenly over the berries and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it's lightly golden brown and the top is firm to the touch.

About 15 minutes before the cake is done, start the lemon syrup: Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and whisk until blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until syrupy but still a little runny. The glaze will bubble while cooking, so you may need to remove it from the heat to check that it is thick enough.

Pour the glaze over the cake as soon as it is removed from the oven. (If the syrup becomes too thick, you may need to reheat briefly.)

This is great right out of the pan, but gets even better the next day. It is wonderful served warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Would I Make This Again? Yes, it's not overly sweet and it's light but satisfying. It's perfect for a late night snack or for breakfast. Use the fruit you have in the house, frozen or fresh, it will work. I made this with a container of mixed fresh fruit that I just happened to have picked up at the grocery store the day before. It's just yummy.

I absolutely loved this dessert. It was the first thing I baked after a long dry spell of not wanting to bake anything. As I measured out the ingredients, listened to the mixer's cadence, and breathed in the glorious bouquet of lemon and baked berries, I felt my love for baking slowly return to gently warm my heart again. It was in that moment that I knew that I was going to be just fine. :)


  1. we have missed you. sorry to hear about your marriage, i can imagine your life has changed considerably since then. i hope this post signifys you seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and enjoying your life the way it is now.

  2. I was just thinking of you the other day, thank you for the update. I hope through the sadness you have experienced in the last few months (and maybe years) has brought you to a better place. xoxo

  3. You are persevering! Keep hanging in there and you'll figure out the direction you want things to go.

  4. I'm giving you major hugs right now. It seems that most of us food bloggers conceal a lot of pain going on through our lives on our blogs and hide this pain behind a piece of cake or a pie. At least I know I do. If you need someone to talk to, I'm here. I'm so relieved that you are happier. I have a book you should read that I'm still reading that could help you. It is called "Real Love" and has a long subtitle. The author is Dr. Greg Baer. He has a website, too, with intro videos so you could watch those before reading the book. Just google "real love". Take care, Julia!!

  5. OH, and I bookmarked this buckle! It sounds wonderful!

  6. Oh Yum! That looks divine! I'm so glad I found you through Cups & Cones! Always happy to meet another aficionado of the Sweet Arts! Love, love, love your blog title! I used to own a bakery called "Flour Shop Boutique Cakerie", so I have a particularly affinity for the creative play on "Flour". Best, Jenn

  7. I've only been reading your blog for about a year (I found you through Ingrid at 3B's) and since then I've always enjoyed your words and your creations. I'm sorry for all the heartache you've experienced and I'm glad you're working your way through it. Only you know which direction this blog will go but I hope you stick around.

  8. Congratulations on your big change. I can only imagine that it was terribly difficult!!! We have missed you greatly, but are all still here to cheer you on as you need us!

  9. So glad to see a post from you. I really do enjoy your blog. I am sorry about your personal life...hope you are in a better place now. Looking forward to more. :)

  10. Although I have never sent an email to you, I have enjoyed your blog, and learned alot from you! I have missed your witty posts, and AWESOME baking skills. I do wish the best for you and hope that you are now on the road to happiness. SO many of us love and value you!

  11. Thanks for posting, and sharing your feelings with all of us. I'm so sorry to hear about your marriage, but it sounds like you are now feeling much better and finding your own way! I wish you nothing but the best!
    I know what you mean about the blog love...it seems to be a boost for many of us!
    Your buckle looks fabulous and delicious!

  12. You are honest and courageous, and I think it's great that you felt ready and able to share this news with your readers. Whatever you decide to do with your blog, always keep in mind that you've already given those of us who read your words many pleasant moments and delicious recipes. That alone is enough, and I hope you feel completely content should you choose to move on to something new.

    :) Jane

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your story....I too have been wondering where you've been....and was pleasantly surprised when I received your email blog post update....thank you for sharing such a tender reality...thank you for sharing your amazing talent for baking....wishing you happiness in where ever you life takes you...but keeping my fingers crossed that you do continue to post on your blog - sweets or confessions/thoughts of the moment are welcome! Smiles!!!

  14. Julia...I'm so sorry to hear that. Do you know how many of us out here are sending you virtual hugs?!?

    We've missed you. Welcome back! ♥

  15. It is good to hear from you. I am sorry you have been going through a difficult time - I am familiar with the kind of pain and personal rediscovery you have been working through. Thank you for sharing this personal matter with us.. Your readers love you and are here to offer support! It is great to hear that you are baking again. I was so surprised to see a new post on your RSS feed today.. So happy to see you again. Hang in there, girl. You are going to be just fine. *hugs*

  16. Lets see if I've got this posting thing down. Julia Love the additions you made to the original post.
    Jo An

  17. Head up, chest out, whisk in hand. You are obviously a strong person with a good head on her shoulders. Everything will work itself out, with a little push from you. Just smile and remember the glorious things in life when you feel a bit down, it helps me :)

    Glad to see you back, even if just for this one post.

  18. I'm a newbie here, and one of the reasons I liked you blog (besides all the yum stuff) was that I could keep up with it. Having a real life outside of blogging is what makes a blog so interesting. I hope the best for you.

  19. So sorry to hear about your marriage. I have been there as well and understand that baking was the last thing on earth you wanted to do. Glad to see you are back. Take your time, follow your heart, and do what is right for YOU.

    The berry buckle looks amazing!

    Hugs to you...

  20. We've talked about this in the past. Glad to read that you are moving on and thriving. :) I miss your posts but understand....Just keep in touch when you can.

    Happy Friday, Julia!

  21. Jo Ann HicksAugust 07, 2010

    Julia, made this for dessert last night YUM!!! I also had a slice for breakfast with my coffee. What a great treat for breakfast.

    Folks if you haven't tried this yet HURRY!! I had blackberries and peaches hanging out in the kitchen the combo of fruit worked for us.

    Julia placing the topping in the freezer Brilliant!!!!!! so easy to spread on the top without sticking to fingers, forks and spoons.

    Thank you so much

  22. Thanks for sharing - the recipe and your news. I'm glad that you've found resolution, although the end of a marriage is never a happy thing.

    If I don't see anything on this blog for a while, I will imagine that you are happy and fulfilled by other things.

  23. The buckle looks very good. Sorry to hear about your marriage;(

  24. thanks for blogging again! your site is a regular read for me and i'm glad to hear that you are doing better!

    god bless.

  25. Oh, I've missed you and was hoping you were on some fabulous life adventure....needless to say, this isn't what I had in mind. I'm so sorry Julia, my thoughts are with you. I know you are such a strong, smart, true to your heart person. You will find the right path to follow in life and it will be so rewarding. All my best.

  26. I've been a long time reader, had been wondering where you'd gone! So sorry to hear what happened, but glad that you are improving! Hope to see you back soon, regularly! *hugs*
    The buckle looks delicious :)

  27. I found your blog through Baking Bites a while back, but never commented before. I want to say how much I enjoy your blog and very sorry to read about your marriage and life changes. I hope you decide to keep the blog going as you are very talented and creative, but understand if you decide otherwise. Keep well and good luck with your new life.

  28. I will miss your blog! I hope baking continues to bring you joy and that you will soon return to your blog, not out of escapism, but to share the happiness baking brings you.

  29. I'm sorry to hear about your marriage. I'm glad things are looking up for you and I will continue to visit your blog as long as you continue to write! Sending good thoughts your way.

  30. wow, this is so brave and honest! you are incredible. love you jules

  31. This looks absolutely amazing! As a pregnant woman this is just pure torture!

    I am in love with your blog!!

  32. AnonymousMay 18, 2011

    Thank u for ur time and recipes. I just found ur blog and i am wowed. I really love ur work. I stumbled here through googling yOgurt cheesecake. Lol. I pray ur life will become what u need it to be happy.

  33. I can't believe that I just found your pages here!! I found it by typing in Lemon Pound Cake and found your Better than Starbucks Lemon Cake. I plan to make it tomorrow. I can totally sympathize with your Marriage breakup...same thing happened to me. I thought everything was fine, but he said he had planned to leave me for two years. Amazing how naive we can be, isn't it? It has been 4 years for me and I am still healing. I wish you only the best of everything! If you continue to write, I will continue to read and enjoy it, but if life takes you in another direction, I will still love what you have written thus far!! Thanks for everything...even the braveness it took to tell us about your problems!! Much Love~ Tricia


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