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Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake


I do have a day job. I mean, I have to pay for my baking goods, random whisks and gadgets and appliances somehow, don’t I? Happily, the place where I work is wonderful; wonderful because it’s a great place to work, and wonderful because I get to bring in my treats for other people to enjoy. I also get to dress up for holidays (as in, Mary Poppins for Halloween, a pilgrim for Thanksgiving, a parade of various ugly sweaters and santa outfits for Christmas, all red for Valentine’s, an explosion of Irish flag colors and Celtic knots for St. Patrick’s Day, and of course, the Easter Bunny for Easter).

Easter is coming up. My outfit planned and prepared, I decided that I wanted to bring in a treat to work. I had made Andes mint brownies a week ago for St. Patrick’s day, so chocolate was out. And I wanted something more spring like, so a treat with fruit seemed just the thing. Onto a blueberry crumb coffee cake. Special equipment? None- this time I wanted to do it all by hand. Maybe because I needed a work out. Or a reminder of how easy my life is with hand and stand mixers in it.

I did buy a disposable pan with a lid; I knew I was bringing it into work and my life is made so much easier when I don’t need to worry about forgetting my dish at the office. So, prepare the pan. Either grease it and flour it, or spray it with Baker’s Joy. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Start with the crumb topping. You will need sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Whisk them so they are well combined. Grab some cold butter and cut it into pieces. Using 2 knives, your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. I generally double the streusel recipe for personal use, but since people at work give me grief about the richness of my treats (as in, “If I lived with you, I’d be so fat”) I only multiplied it by 1.5.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Whisk until well combined and set aside. 

In another bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar. I did this by hand with a whisk, and it took approximately 300 times longer than if I caved and busted out my hand mixer. It can be done, though. You’ll get an excellent arm workout in. Crack in an egg and mix well. 

You may ask, why bother to separate the steps? Why not whisk the butter, sugar and eggs all at once? Well, my friend, it has to do with science. Namely, creaming the butter and sugar together ensures that the sugar is evenly dispersed in the butter, and also you work in air. There is a leavening agent in this cake, namely the baking powder, that will give volume to the cake. However, a lot of the light, fluffy crumb texture comes from creaming together butter and sugar. So why do some recipes with multiple eggs and them one at a time? Adding one egg at a time ensures that the fat of the butter emulsifies with the egg. If you add to much egg at once, your butter and egg may not properly emulsify into a smooth ribbon texture, and the crumb of your cake would not be as nice. You also may lose some of the volume you achieved in creaming your sugar and butter together.

Measure your milk. I like to add 2 tablespoons of sour cream to the milk, and I short the milk by about 2 tablespoons or a little less. I find sour cream helps keep everything moist. And moistness in cake is key. It’s the only acceptable use of that word. Add in your pure vanilla extract.

Toss your blueberries in tablespoon of flour- it’ll prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your batter. Fresh and in season blueberries are best. If you find the blueberries available to you are lackluster, frozen is a good alternative. There is no need to thaw them but do indeed toss them in the flour.

Final step is combining ingredients. To your butter, egg and sugar mixture, add one third your flour and mix until combined. Add half your milk mixture and blend until combined. Add half of your remaining flour, mix, and then the remainder of your milk and mix. Finally, add your final remnants of flour. Mix until just combined. Why all these steps? To prevent overmixing of the batter. Don’t overmix or you may develop the gluten in the flour and get a chewy dense cake. We want light and fluffy. 

Fold your blueberries into the batter. Spread into your prepared baking pan and douse with the crumb topping. Bake for 45 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely and dust with powdered sugar. 

Feast.

Recipe:
Credit: Ree Drummond
Ingredients:
Cake:
5 tbsp softened butter
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup whole milk plus 2 tbsp sour cream
2 cups blueberries

Topping:
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
Powdered sugar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour or spray a 9 by 13 pan with Baker’s Joy.
Make the topping:
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Cut in he pieces of butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

For the cake:
Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine.
In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
In a measuring jug, mix the milk, vanilla and sour cream together until blended.
To the butter mixture, add the flour mixture and milk alternately, ending with the flour mixture. (1/3 flour mixture, ½ milk, ½ of the remaining flour, rest of the milk, rest of the flour). Mix well after each addition.

Toss your blueberries in a scant tbsp of flour. Fold into your batter. Pour your batter into the prepared pan and spread the crumb topping over it. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool on a wire rack and dust it with powdered sugar. 

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