It’s August, and I have yet to buy my first watermelon of the summer. It’s not because I have something against watermelon. I don’t. In fact, watermelon is right up there with ice cream, crusty bread, chocolate, and egg salad made with ranch dressing instead of mayonnaise. It’s just that berries and cherries are having a great year, and when I see them, I buy them.
Last week, starring at the two pints of blueberries in the refrigerator and the zip lock bags filled with blueberries in the freezer, I knew the only way to reduce the inventory was to start baking. A homemade blueberry coffee cake in the freezer is an asset; zip lock bags filled with frozen berries are a responsibility.
Blueberries are one of the “super” foods, a group that has all kinds of positive attributes. Eat them, and you feel virtuous. Better yet, eat them because they’re delicious.
Given that I’m hosting a book club meeting in a few weeks, I decided to make cakes that would be both simple to make and freezer friendly. The first choice was easy.
“Blueberry Coffee Cake,” a recipe from Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Ct., was an instant favorite. In addition to tasting good, it freezes well and doesn’t require the use of a mixer, which is always a plus.
Blueberry Coffee Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cups sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cups vegetable oil
¾ cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
¼ cup sugar, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375-degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vegetable oil, milk and egg. Fold in blueberries.
Pour into an ungreased 8-inch sugar baking dish. Sprinkle Sugar Topping onto top of cake batter. Bake uncovered, 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
With a Blueberry Coffee Cake already in the freezer, I started looking through various cookbooks, finally finding a recipe that looking promising in my well-worn, 1997-edition of “Joy of Cooking” (Scribner, $30) by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. Like the Blueberry Coffee Cake,” it’s mixed by hand and pairs well with a cup of coffee or tea.
Blueberry Crunch Coffeecake
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease an 8 ½-inch x4 ½-inch (six cup) loaf pan Combine and sprinkle in the bottom of the pan:
¼ sliced almonds
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
Cut in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not allow the butter to melt or form a blended past with the flour.
Whisk together in another bowl:
1 large egg
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour over the flour mixture and stir until three-quarters of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add:
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the berries are distributed. Spoon the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (other than the juice of the berries), 55-60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Loosen the edges, if necessary, and invert onto the rack. Serve warm or, for the crunchiest topping, let cool before serving.
As much as I like these cakes, I’m always looking for the next “best recipe.” So if you have a favorite, please share it with me.