Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Last weekend as I baked this blueberry crumb cake I told Lewis to call a friend to see if they wanted to have a 2 family pot luck that night, because we would have cake.  Somehow I did not feel badly about basically inviting ourselves over for dinner, when one of our dinner contributions was a freshly baked cake, warm from the oven, which smelled softly of cinnamon, lemon and blueberries.  Somehow I wasn't phased by the fact this was the first time I had made this cake because sadly I make a practice of serving new dishes to friends.

Happily my faith in this recipe was well placed and everyone who tried it insisting on a second piece.  The genius part of the recipe was the use of bread crumbs to dust the butter on the sides of the pan so the cake would not stick.  I always find the usual flour dusting the pan makes for a white smear on the outside and sometimes the faintest taste of raw flour.  The bread crumbs disappeared visually and the only taste was the cake and maybe a hint of more butter.

Maida's Blueberry Crumb Cake
adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used mostly corn bread, with about 2 Tbsp random bread crumbs squirreled away in my freezer)
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, divided use
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup whole milk
finely grated zest of one lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (Optional, I did not use the nuts because my children do not like nuts in their baked goods)

Wash the berries and drain well in a sieve before drying with a paper towel.  Set aside to dry completely while you make the batter.

Preheat the oven to 375°  Butter a 9 inch square cake pan (I used a pyrex baking pan) and dust with the bread crumbs.

Combine the 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar before cutting in 4 Tbsp of the cold butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until it is cut into uniform sized coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

Beat the other 4 Tbsp cold butter with the 3/4 cup sugar in a stand mixer with the flat beater blade or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, unless you are using a self scraping beater blade, Beat in the vanilla and egg followed by the baking powder and salt.  Beat until it everything is completely incorporated.

Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of the flour over the blueberries and toss gently to coat the blueberries in flour.

Stir 1/3 of the flours into the wet ingredients, followed by half the milk, then the next 1/3 of the flours, then the rest of the milk and lastly the remaining flour.  Stir in the lemon zest before spooning the batter over the berries and folding gently with a silicone spatula until just combined.

Scrape into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the nuts if using and then the cinnamon sugar topping.

Bake for 50 minutes until a knife or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack (or in the back of a car on the way to dinner).

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