One of my weaknesses in the summer is to empty my wallet on berries. The two places by work where I buy my fresh produce often have good sales on berries – 3-for-$5, the odd 4-for $5 for blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries depending on the season. It’s not unusual for me to splurge twice in one week, not when berries go so well with the morning cereal or on yogurt or on salads or… Let’s just say I eat a lot of berries in the warm-weather months.
Oddly enough, though, I never really get around to cooking with them. I have never made a blueberry or blackberry pie, have never made a raspberry torte, have never made jam or preserves out of berries or even a simple fruit sauce or coulis. They don’t last that long. I think the sum total of my fruit desserts can be a failed cake and a couple of clafoutis, all made in the dead of winter with berries I’d frozen.
This summer, however, I finally got around to cooking fruit I’d just bought. It was by accident, more or less, because I was flipping through my little cake book and stumbled upon a recipe that appealed. And so I grudgingly spared some of my fresh bounty from being inhaled au naturel and tried it out.
I’ve made this cake three – four? – times already. I’d say it was a keeper except it would be a bad pun considering the recipe comes from Cake Keeper Cakes, which I purchased back when I’d bought myself the cake stand.
As for the book itself, it’s been hit and miss; I’ve made three cakes from the book, all chocolate-related, and haven’t been amazed by any of them. This one, however, is certainly in the ‘hit’ column.
The cake has a couple of things going as far as I’m concerned, above and beyond fruit, which always improves a cake.
First, it divides well. I can split the recipe in half, making one six-inch cake instead of one nine-inch cake, without any ill effects and it comes out splendidly.
A bonus, since not everyone is a lapsed mathematician like I am, is that there are no strange measurements involving complicated fractional division not covered by your average kitchen measuring cups. The hardest division is turning 3/4 cup into 3/8th cup and you can do that by eyeballing with your 1/2-cup measure the way you would with your cup measure.
Ingredient-wise, the only complication is to halve the one egg, which is a non-problem for me because I keep egg substitute in the fridge and just measure out one ounce for half an egg.
Secondly, and non-trivially, the recipe’s not butter-heavy. Anything with a streusel on top is going to be adding a ton of butter and sugar, but this is actually pretty mild. The ‘full’ recipe only requires a stick of butter total for both cake and streusel, so half a recipe is just half a stick of butter, which is pretty fair.
Thirdly, it’s flexible. I don’t own a six-inch springform (although I’m considering it), but I can get away without one with some deft maneuvering. A springform pan definitely would help here, but it’s not like it’s a cheesecake or something else that just won’t work out in a standard one-piece pan.
Fourth, hey, it’s really good and it’s really simple and it has fruit and that’s pretty much what’s important.
(adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes)
makes 1 9-inch cake (halve for 1 6-inch cake)
Preheat the oven to 375F.
for the streusel
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix, either in a mixer or with a fork or fingers, until the consistency is of wet sand and the flour is absorbed. A few lumps are great, just make sure none of them are solid brown sugar.
Cover and refrigerate until needed.
for the cake
4tb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg [1 oz egg substitute for half a recipe]
1 tspn vanilla
2 cups flour, divided
2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 cup milk
3-4 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried carefully.
Put the blueberries in a bowl or large container with a lid and add 2 tb of the flour or enough to thoroughly coat the berries. This is to keep them from all sinking to the bottom when the cake bakes, so be thorough. Shake gently (if using a covered container) or fold gently if using a bowl, then set aside. Give it a shuckle or two while assembling the batter.
Combine the rest of the flour with the baking powder and salt and set aside.
In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until the batter is lemon-colored and smooth.
Starting with the dry ingredients, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk in segments: dry-milk-dry-milk-dry, letting each component thoroughly incorporate before adding the next.
Fold the blueberries (including any remaining flour) into the batter gently with a spatula. Try not to mash too many of the berries in the process.
Grease a 9-inch springform pan and dump the batter in gently.
Deposit the streusel on top, making sure that it’s relatively even and no streusel mountains exist.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. You may need to poke more than once not to hit a blueberry.
When it’s done, leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes on a baking rack, then remove from the pan and let cool on the rack directly.