Tuesday, November 15, 2011

East Blue Hill Blueberry Coffee Cake

Last weekend was a three-day weekend (Armistice Day), and a well-deserved one at that: since I would be missing my four classes on Friday, my school's administration in all its wisdom spread the courses out over three days, two of which I normally have off. So I was ready for the holiday to roll around. 

The Saturday morning of a three-day weekend is awesome because it feels like it's already Sunday, but it's not! It's that feeling you get when your alarm goes off but you don't actually have to get up. And so getting up and making coffee cake was not a chore (well, it never is) but a pleasure.

And this is a good one: a simple butter cake topped with blueberries and sugar. Julia wondered what had happened to "the crunchy stuff" (I guess I like to put streusel on my coffee cake), but really, the cake was good without it.

The only downside to this cake was that I found it to have a bitter aftertaste. I had just read David Lebovitz's article about baking powder and saw that he buys aluminum-free baking powder to avoid that bitterness. I'm pretty sure my Target-brand baking powder has aluminum, but I'm just as sure that the Wal-mart baking powder I had before (can you tell I'm a cheapskate?) also contained aluminum. So I'm guessing the problem may be either that I just opened a fresh, new can or that this recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder for 1-1/2 cups (sifted) flour. I'm pretty sure that you're not supposed to exceed 1 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour, and Maida likes you to use light (4 ounces, rather than the standard unsifted 5) cups of flour, so that may be the problem. If I were making this again, I'd use 1-1/2 t. baking powder at most. 
But otherwise, this is a fruity, buttery, not-too-sweet cake that tastes great warm from the oven on a lazy Saturday morning. Give it a try!

Here's the recipe.

East Blue Hill Blueberry Coffee Cake

1/4 c. (2 oz.) butter, room temperature
2 t. baking powder (see note above)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Grated zest of 1 (organic) lemon
3/4 c. (5.25 oz.) sugar (I used a little less than 5 oz.)
1 egg
1-1/2 c. (6 oz.) sifted flour (I used 2 oz. whole wheat)
2/3 c. (5.3 oz.) milk
1-1/2 c. (6 oz.) fresh or frozen blueberries
Additional sugar (raw or crystal sugar is nice here)

Heat the oven to 350. Butter an 8-inch square pan and dust it with wheat germ or bread crumbs. Beat the butter with the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, and lemon zest until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat 2-3 minutes longer. Scrape down and add the egg, beating until well mixed. Stir (or beat at low speed) in half the flour, then the milk, then the rest of the flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. If your blueberries tend to be on the tart side, toss them with a couple of tablespoons of sugar, and then spread them over the batter (I didn't add any sugar to mine, and I thought the sweetness level was perfect). Sprinkle another tablespoonful of sugar over the berries and put the cake in the oven for 45-50 minutes (check after 30 minutes or so). Maida wants you to put the cake under the broiler for a minute to caramelize the berries and sugar, but I thought the cake was fine without that step. Serve warm with coffee for breakfast or with ice cream for dinner.

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