How to turn tired grapes into a crumbly buckle cake

<span>Truly special: Tom Hunt’s black grape buckle cake.</span><span>Photograph: Tom Hunt/The Guardian</span>
Truly special: Tom Hunt’s black grape buckle cake.Photograph: Tom Hunt/The Guardian

When our grape bowl is past its best and the fruit is wrinkly and unappetising, this cake is our go-to for upcycling them into something truly special. (It can also be made with any fruit, such as tired berries, shrivelled figs or an abundance of rhubarb, say.)

The thought of devouring this super-sweet cake whips up a frenzy of excitement in our house, with my four-year-old daughter and I singing “black grape buckle cake” on repeat until it turns into a tongue-twister. By the time we are bored with that, we are usually both sitting down with a piece of cake in hand, eating quietly with pleasure.

Buckle cake

The wholemeal sponge is very sticky and moist, studded with tender steamed grapes that burst in the mouth like sour little explosions, giving momentary hiatus from the sweet streusel topping (and allowing far more than is sensible to be consumed). The streusel goes on looking quite floury, but after 45 minutes or an hour in the oven, it melts with the butter, the sugar caramelises and the whole thing turns into a salted caramel-like crumble. Yoghurt, cream or ice-cream is an essential accompaniment to balance out the sweetness of the cake.

I prefer the taste and nutrition of wholemeal spelt flour or wholewheat flour, and rapadura or an unrefined sugar, which gives the sponge and topping a dark, rich flavour and colour. But, of course, plain white flour and sugar works fine, too, so use whatever you’ve got.

For the streusel topping
80g cold butter, cut into small cubes
120g rapadura or unrefined sugar
90g wholemeal spelt or wheat flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
of 1 lemon
¼ tsp sea salt

For the cake batter
170g butter, softened
120g rapadura or unrefined sugar
190g wholemeal spelt or wheat flour
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
200-300g black, red or green grapes
, or other fruit, such as rhubarb, cut into pieces
Yoghurt, cream or ice-cream, to serve

To make the streusel topping, put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix everything using two butter knives until roughly combined, then chill in the fridge until needed.

Heat the oven to 195C (175C fan)/380F/gas 5½ and grease a medium-sized (20cm x 30cm) baking dish with saved butter wrappers or oil.

To make the cake batter, beat the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour, sea salt, baking powder, vanilla extract and eggs, then mix until well combined.

Fold in the grapes (or other fruit) and pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the streusel topping all over the top and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife skewered into the cake comes out clean. Enjoy warm or cool, served with a generous amount of yoghurt, cream or ice-cream.