Sunday, September 7, 2014

Last Call...Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake

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It is the weekend after Labor Day, the unofficial start of Fall.  I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in Georgia it is sweltering.  As in 90 degree weather, terribly humid and many an afternoon thunderstorm.  The apples are out in the produce department but, better than that, the berries are on sale, as in three for the price of one.

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

Serves 8

Ingredients:

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)

Directions:

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
Photos Lindaraxa

12 comments:

  1. An interesting recipe. I am curious about the cake part itself. The batter calls for so little butter that the richness seems to come from the topping, which I would most likely omit. Do you think the cake part is worth making on its own, and also would you cut down on the sugar a little?
    --Jim

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    1. No, and no. The cake is perfectly balanced by the topping and it is definitely not too sweet. remember the blueberries are kind of tart. Don't change a thing and make it as is, trust me.

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  2. Excellent way to take advantage of fresh blueberries and it sounds fantastic with tea in the afternoon. For some reason, our blueberries haven't tasted as good as previous years and I don't know why. Maybe the cold winter...but it's been very hot here too lately.

    Hope you're having a nice weekend.
    Sam

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    Replies
    1. I hadn't noticed about the blueberries as I haven't made my blueberry pie this year. Luckily, In something like this it really doesn't make that much of a difference. But the peaches, oh my! I just saw more crates yesterday at Publix put I've made and canned as much as I care to this summer. Same with the garden. Some things have turned out great, others not so much. I think definitely it was the winter.

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  3. Hot and humid here, too—after a rather cool August, the summer seems to be getting in its last licks.

    I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but this is just the kind of sweet dish I do go for—fruit based, dense and full of intense flavor. Will have to try this soon!

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    Replies
    1. ...and great to have around on the weekend. You will like it.

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  4. Funny, the end of summer for most people means the beginning for us over here. There are finally enough sunny afternoons in San Francisco to sit on the balcony for cocktails and late lunches.

    The cake looks to be delicious and I'd love a slice right now as I sip my afternoon tea while catching up on reading all my favorite blogs.

    Welcome back from your break!

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    Replies
    1. Fall is a great time out there, specially in Napa. I have great memories of a Thanksgiving spent in San Francisco with a visit to the wine country. The return to blogging might be a bit sporadic as I have my mother here with me. She takes up a LOT of my time. Glad to see you back also!

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  5. I made this right after I saw the recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen. It was excellent and I want to make it again soon. It was perfect exactly as written. I gave a few pieces to my neighbors and they commented they would be happy to take a few pieces off my hands if I made it again. I have a feeling they will be enjoying it again soon. I may have to make 2! It's that good. I have been following your blog for some time now but this my first time commenting. Always enjoy your posts and have tried a number of your recipes. I'd like to mention your Pimiento Cheese Spread and Kentucky Beer Cheese are outstanding! Dennie (from Ohio)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Dennie,

      Yes there are a few of you out there...I call them the Silent Majority and it's great to see them pop up. It gives us bloggers a great thrill to know we are read and that our recipes are made and enjoyed. Thank you so much for commenting.

      SK's recipes are fantastic. She is one of the food bloggers you can really trust.

      Do come back!

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  6. I'm with you. It still looks an awful lot like summer here in Los Angeles - people in tee shirts and shorts, bathing suits everywhere, and triple digit heat. If fall is here, I sure can't find it. Your Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake looks like a perfect way to start a day or to enjoy an afternoon snack. Yum!

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    Replies
    1. I'm wearing shorts today, and this is north Georgia. Have stopped looking at the calendar and enjoying my tomatoes, the plant that keeps on giving. Thanks for stopping by.

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