Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blueberry Coffee Cake

 I have a weakness. Weaknesses, plural, if we're being truthful. They include butter and brown sugar but are not limited to those. I'm not immune to flattery because I can be just the tiniest bit vain. But mostly it's the butter and sugar. See, it's that transitional time of year. When summer is lingering and fighting turning into fall. We've had days of rain now, which I'm welcoming with open arms. We've needed it. But sometimes rain just seems to make the days hotter. Instead of relieving the heat it just traps it, and it's like living in a giant sauna. Not this time. Yesterday, we had a cool breeze. In the afternoon. Y'all, I'm not sure the Lowcountry has ever seen a cool breeze on an August afternoon. It just isn't done.

Because it's been raining and cooling off and because in cooler weather (Read: 85º and below) it's a little nicer to drink hot tea or coffee, I made this blueberry coffee cake. Part of the appeal of this cake stemmed from having every single ingredient in my pantry/refrigerator/freezer. It's lovely not having to run out in the rain for an ingredient or two. Actually, I didn't have brown sugar, but I made my own using granulated sugar and molasses because I'm resourceful. Blueberry season will be gone soon, but if you freeze some berries you can have this coffee cake well into winter.

 Start by making the crumble topping, otherwise known as my favorite part of any cake/crumble/crisp/buckle/etc. You'll need: Dark brown sugar (freshly made or otherwise), butter, flour, toasted pecans, and kosher salt. Please note that when you're chopping pecans, one might end up in your flour. It will be impossible to pick out, so just leave it be.

 Flour, brown sugar, and salt go into a medium bowl. Silly me didn't pay attention to the measuring cups and used 1/3 cup brown sugar instead of 1/4 cup. I don't think I minded.

 Stir in the chopped pecans.

 Time for the butter. Work it in with your hands until it forms large, moist clumps. That is potentially the worse sentence I've ever written.

 It'll be a little something like this.

 The heart of the matter. The cake needs: Butter, eggs, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, buttermilk, vanilla extract, panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal, blueberries, and cinnamon. I almost forgot the cinnamon until it came time to use it.

 Begin by whisking together the flour, corn meal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set it aside.

 Soft butter and granulated sugar are mixed until they become creamy.

Half a teaspoon gives just a kiss of vanilla.

Add the eggs individually to create a pale, fluffy batter.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour.

The buttermilk will give it just a slight tang.

Spread half of the batter into an 8x8 pan.

Mix a little cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Y'all, I bent my favorite whisk.
Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the first layer of batter. It's going to create a lovely line of cinnamon throughout the coffee cake. Spread the remaining batter over the cinnamon layer.

Toss the blueberries with the panko just before adding to the cake.

Spread them evenly over the cake. You want each slice to have a nice burst of blueberry flavor.

Top with the buttery crumb mixture we made earlier and bake.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan.

The layers of flavor and texture are what set this coffee cake apart. The cornmeal gives a subtle crunch that isn't quite the crunch from the pecans, and the blueberries lend a fruity tang that prevents this from being just sweet. Oh it is sweet to be sure, but it's more than that.

This cake can be made a day ahead, making it perfect for those noon football games. Mimosa and blueberry coffee cake? Don't mind if I do! Y'all know it always comes back to football for me.

Blueberry Coffee Cake (serves 6-8)
Accidentally adapted from Cakes & Ale via Bon Appetit

Crumb Topping:
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c + 2 tbs dark brown sugar, packed (Reduce to 1/4 c for the original recipe)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted
3 tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tbs cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c + 3 tbs granulated sugar, divided
6 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 c buttermilk
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tbs panko breadcrumbs
2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen & thawed
  • Preheat oven to 350º. Spray an 8x8 pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • To make the crumb topping, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the pecans. Work the butter in with your fingers until large clumps form. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator while you make the cake.
  • For the cake, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat 3/4 cup sugar with the butter until creamy and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until batter is pale and fluffy, another 3-4 minutes. Using low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. You should start and end with the flour.
  • Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly over the bottom. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and the tablespoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the first cake layer, covering it evenly. Pour the remaining batter into the pan and spread it into an even layer. Toss the panko with the blueberries and sprinkle over the cake. Top with the crumb mixture.
  • Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan. This cake can be made a day in advance.


  1. This blueberry cake looks amazing!

  2. Yum! I love blueberry coffee cakes. I have such a soft spot for them. I've got to try this recipe!

    1. Yes, yes! I have a soft spot for any cake you can eat for breakfast.

  3. I am making this for a brunch next weekend. I can't wait to try it.