I know I should be posting about Fall recipes, but who can think of the hearth and apple pie when it's this hot. These next two weeks are usually bad as far as dressing and cooking is concerned. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide what to wear when I lived in New York City. Beige, tan and black, black and tan, but forget white. Navy? no, too Spring. Grey was okay. Brown? nah. The next three weeks were a pain to dress. You never knew what the next day would bring.
It's the same with cooking for the next two weeks. We are still grilling but late afternoon showers make it iffy.
This coffee cake, like black and tan, is great to have around in this transition period. Good for brunch, good for tea and a great dessert with coffee. Madame Mere has been sneaking a piece (a "tiny" little piece) every day for the last week with her espresso right after lunch. Yes, you can make this any time of the year with frozen blueberries but it is really not the same.
One day last week, I did my good deed for the week by helping an elderly lady in one of those motorized carts reach for a few baskets of raspberries. There were six left and she wanted three. So I picked out the best three and THEN she told me about the special, written in tiny letters over the counter, three for the price of one. As I stared at the last three baskets after she took off, and I mean took off, I thought, jeepers three for the price of one? raspberries?! Well obviously I didn't want the discards after selecting the best for the motorized lady but I was consoled to see that the same deal was offered for the blueberry pints. So that's how this came to be. That and the recipe I had saved from Maida Heatter, via Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs.
This cake is called a crumb cake. I think of it more along the lines of a coffee cake since it reminds me of my mother and her generation. That is what they used to call this kind of cake which was served after lunch or for breakfast together with the infamous percolated American coffee ( insipid and weak!). I would serve it instead for tea or as part of a brunch.
Debbie is absolutely right in all her modifications. First, why sift the flour when this promises to be a dense cake; and why coat the blueberries in flour when they won't sink to the bottom in a batter this thick. Two unnecessary steps out of the way.
Do add the walnuts, it makes for interesting mix of texture.
One of the things Smitten Kitchen commented about was the butteriness of the crumble and resisting the urge to add more flour to make it more crumbly. If you put it back in the fridge, until ready to use, it will be crumblier and easier to sprinkle.
Another thing I did not do was compensate for not sifting the flour by adding an extra tablespoon. Instead, I used White Lily Flour, one of the wonders and great advantages of living in the South. If you can't find it just use a fine sieve and forget about sifting.
One of the things I like about this cake, or coffee cake, is the fact that it requires just two bowls and one cake pan. It gets done in no time and it is better the next day and the day after, meaning you are more than safe making it a day ahead. I have not tried freezing it as there was none left after four days. Madame Mere and the lady who takes care of her managed to polish it off in three days, with a tiny bit of help from me, so it doesn't look like I will ever know it it freezes well or not. I just have a good feeling it will.
So, blueberries are on sale, this is an easy cake, no fuss, no mess, it can be made ahead, freezes well and is delicious to boot. What are you waiting for?!
Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake
For the crumble
5 tablespoons (40 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup, 2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, cold
Pinch of salt
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour (use White Lily if you can)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup, 2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint or 340 to 455 grams fresh blueberries, clean and dry
1/2 cup whole milk,
1/2 cup (55 grams) walnuts, chopped medium fine (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Heat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan (with at least 2″ sides) and dust it lightly with flour; line it with a round of parchment paper.'
Prepare the topping by mixing the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt, then cutting the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. (I suggest you put it in the refrigerator until ready to use. It is easier to sprinkle on top later)
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt until combines.
In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and zest together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture until just combined, followed by 1/2 the milk; repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk, finishing with the dry mixture. The batter will be very stiff, but don’t fret.
Fold blueberries into cake batter until evenly distributed. Scoop cake batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is flat. If using walnuts, scatter them on top. Sprinkle with prepared streusel.
Bake in heated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out batter-free. You can let the cake cool complete in the pan on a rack, or just cool it in the pan for 20 minutes before flipping it out onto a cooling rack, removing the parchment paper lining, and flipping it back onto a plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using.
Do ahead: Cake keeps covered with plastic or foil at room temperature for three days. If longer, it might be best to keep it in the fridge. It gets more moist each day and it is better the day after baking.
Adapted from Maida Heatter via Smitten Kitchen