This cake is really quite simple. It’s basically a blueberry muffin batter baked in a cake pan. You can use a quick bread method of batter assembly, meaning that you can combine the wet ingredients, combine the dry ingredients, and then stir them together. Unlike in a fancier cake recipe, there are no multiple alternating additions of ingredients. And, unlike in a muffin recipe, there’s no distribution of the batter into muffin cups. Just dump it in a pan and throw it in the oven.
Really, you can do this with many (if not most or even all) muffin recipes. The essence of any “coffee cake” is it’s “quick bread” nature. The end product is actually better if you don’t spend much time fussing. That is, you don’t want to over-mix the batter. Just stir until there are no longer any pockets of dry ingredients. It’s amazing how well this kind of thing turns out when you consider how lazy the baker is allowed, nay, expected, to be.
This cake is quite moist, sweet and a little dense, good for dessert, coffee breaks and breakfast. Of course, the quality of your blueberries will make a difference in your cake’s flavor, and I was fortunate enough to have a load of good ones from earlier this summer in the freezer. I added a crumb topping, the same as the one for these muffins, but without the nutmeg. It bakes up a little crunchy on the top and, of course, adds a fair amount of sweetness as well. I think it makes the cake a little bit special without much extra effort.
The original recipe called for the use of a spring form pan. You know, the kind with the removable sides that we usually use for cheesecakes (like this one). I was going to use a regular cake pan instead, but when I decided to add the crumb topping, I saw the wisdom of using the spring form. How else would I get the cake out of the pan without flipping it over and destroying the topping? Well, if you don’t have a spring form pan, I think you could just serve slices of cake right from a regular round cake pan, or you could just skip the crumb topping and still make a pretty good cake.
You could also make this in a muffin tin, I’m sure, but I don’t know how many muffins the recipe would make or how long they should bake. If you’re a little squeamish about baking cakes, give yourself a chance with this recipe or something like it. It’s really no more difficult than making blueberry muffins.
And it might just be time for us to admit once and for all that muffins are cake anyway.
Blueberry Muffin Coffee Cake with Crumb ToppingAdapted from Fine Cooking
I used nonfat milk to make this cake because that’s what I had in the refrigerator. I think any milk will do.
For the topping:1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
For the cake:
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (about ¾ pound) fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw if frozen)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray or spread it with butter or oil.
2. To make the crumb topping, whisk together the 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar and pinch salt in a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons cold butter pieces and combine with the flour mixture using a pastry blender, a fork, or your hands. Work it until you make a crumbly mixture with small bits of butter well coated with flour and sugar. Set aside.
3. Melt the ¼ cup butter. Remove from the heat and cool.
4. In a medium-size bowl, combine the 2 cups flour, 1 ¼ cups sugar, baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk or sift together to combine. Set aside.
5. In another medium-size bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Gradually whisk in the melted butter. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.
6. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until most of the flour is moistened. Add the blueberries and stir in just until well-distributed.
7. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. (It will be thick.) Spread evenly. Evenly sprinkle the prepared crumb topping onto the batter. It should cover the whole cake.
8. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Place on a wire cooling rack and run a knife along the edges of the cake. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the spring form pan. Cool completely or enjoy slightly warm.
Makes 10-12 servings