Blueberry Crumb Cake

March 4, 2008

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The end is in sight. Really, truly. Well, at the very least maybe. On Sunday, the skies broke open, the mercury climbed and Mother Nature whispered the promise of spring and possibly even summer to Chicago. Not only was the temperature very comfortably in the double-digits, but the first of said double digits was a five for the better part of the day.

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And I can’t think of a better way to bask in the nearly-spring-ness of Sunday than the way we did. We had brunch with Kevin’s family, as both of his sisters were in town. Kevin’s dad whipped up one of his world famous egg scrambles, featuring sauteed veggies and chicken sausage. And he asked me to bring coffee cake. I have a sneaking suspicion that he had in mind the coffee cake I made for the last brunch we shared with them, but why would I go and make something I’ve already made? Luckily, the new recipe I selected was perfect for the sunshiney day, with its blueberries (what’s more summer than berries, even if they are pitifully out of season right now) and hints of lemon.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Sure, sure, Monday was marked by “temperatures falling sharply” and a “wintry mix,” according to my old friend, weather.com. But, still, I’m not ready to forget Sunday and it’s hopeful promise of lighter, brighter, warmer days. The leftovers of this cake—with its undulating, cinnamony-sugary-buttery crust and it’s moist, airy underside, studded with vibrant blue punches of berries—are helping me push the thought of umbrellas, winter boots, and down parkas (all in the same day, thank you very much) aside. Because spring will be here soon enough. Right? Right?!?

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Blueberry Crumb Cake
Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: from My Home to Yours

For the Crumbs:
5 tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts*

For the Cake:
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries (preferably fresh, or frozen, not thawed)
2 cups plus 2 tsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon or 1/4 orange
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter at room temp
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8-inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the nuts in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms clumps and curds and holds together when pressed. Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir in the nuts and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate until needed. (Covered well the crumb mix can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

To make the cake: Using your fingertips, toss the blueberries and 2 tsp of the flour together in a small bowl just to coat the berries; set aside. Whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the butter and, with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for about 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled — it will soon smooth out. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients.) You will have a thick, creamy batter. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the berries.

Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula. Pull the crumb mix from the fridge and, with your fingertips, break it into pieces. There’s no need to try to get even pieces — these are crumbs, they’re supposed to be lumpy and bumpy and every shape and size. Scatter the crumbs over the batter, pressing them down ever so slightly.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature.

* I omitted the walnuts.

** Kristin’s Note: I made this cake on Saturday afternoon, let it cool in its pan to room temperature and wrapped it with foil. It was perfectly delicious on Sunday morning and Kevin said that his leftover wedge on Monday was even better.

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9 Responses to “Blueberry Crumb Cake”

  1. a. grace Says:

    heavens to betsy, that is gorgeous. i’m on a huge blueberry kick right now (bad timing, right?), and if i can scrounge some up, i’m making this immediately. i’m sure it won’t look as loverly as yours, but hey–i don’t eat with my eyes. thanks for sharing!

  2. RecipeGirl Says:

    Looks like a good one. Blueberries have been on sale lately, and they’re actually pretty good already. It’s in the 70′s here :)

  3. cedar Says:

    Oh my! That certainly looks divine….I have been meaning to buy some blueberries to bake with. I think you just convinced me!

  4. brilynn Says:

    I’ve made this and it’s wonderful! Love a Dorie recipe!


  5. Everybodys making crumb cakes. I want some too!!!!

  6. JEP Says:

    Gorgeous!

  7. Ali Says:

    Hi there, I was trying to find an email address to send you a note, but alas, couldn’t find one! Could you email me, please? I’d love to feature two of your recipes on an online magazine that I write for. If you could email me at divinedomesticity@gmail.com I can give you all the info. :) Thanks!! – Ali

  8. Lavonne Says:

    I just made this and it’s cooling in the pan as I write. After it cooled did you invert it on to a plate?? Mine looks a little bumpy on top but other than that it looks terrific!
    Totally inspired by your photos once again. Thanks


  9. Lavonne: I did not invert it onto a plate. I cut it right out of the pan. I remember it coming out of the pan very easily, so if you greased your pan well, it might work. Good luck!


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