Summertime blues: Fresh blueberry coffee cake is worth firing up the oven for
Summertime is definitely not the season we normally associate with baking, but there are a few recipes that are so good, they’re worth turning on the oven for in the heat. And when blueberries are in season, this recipe for blueberry coffee cake makes the cut.
Somehow blueberry coffee cake transcends its station as a hot beverage accompaniment and nestles perfectly somewhere between breakfast and dessert. It is flawless. A rich crumble topping with warm cinnamon and brown sugar provides balance to a light and fluffy cake that boasts just a whisper of lemon and tender blueberries in every bite.
This recipe is one that I have fiddled with for a while and over the last couple of years, I have settled here. It’s simple, moist and consistently delicious. While there aren’t any frills or secrets that make this recipe out of reach for the novice chef, there are a couple of things I’ve noticed that affect the outcome routinely.
First, the size of the blueberries makes a difference in the moisture of the cake. I find that smaller blueberries make for a better final product. Not only do the smaller berries tend to have a lovely tart flavor, but really big blueberries are prone to plumping up so much that you end up with a jam-like layer on the bottom of your dish.
Second, don’t worry about measuring your sour cream too precisely. I just put a scoop of sour cream into my measuring cup and then fill to the ½-cup line with my half and half. The sour cream is just to add a little complexity to the light lemon cake.
And lastly, make sure your crumble topping is cold when you sprinkle it over the batter. I’ll even put mine in the freezer while I’m mixing my batter. The super cold topping means that it will bake into a nice crumble instead of just a melted butter and sugar crust – which is also delicious, but not what we’re going for with this recipe. The crunchy crumble topping is one of the best parts of this classic.
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Yield: One 9-by-9-inch cake
For the topping
⅔ cup packed brown sugar
⅔ cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
For the cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick soft butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ Tablespoons sour cream
½ cup half and half
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries, rinsed and checked for stems
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking dish, or line with parchment paper if desired.
In a small bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients except the butter. Mix thoroughly. Add the cold butter and use your fingers to massage it all together until you have a crumbly mixture with little butter chunks.
Place the topping in the fridge or freezer while you mix your batter.
In another small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat well using an electric mixer. Add your eggs and lemon zest and mix thoroughly.
Add your sour cream and half and half and mix well.
Gently fold in your blueberries with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Pour into your prepared baking dish and top with cold crumble.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Enjoy with your morning coffee or afternoon tea, or even a glass of rosé.