As the product of a sound Catholic school education (plaid kilts from kindergarten to 12th grade), I’m an inveterate rule follower. I make full and complete stops at all stop signs. I return my library books on time. I find a soothing comfort in the order provided by Ikea assembly instructions and TSA restrictions (I’ve got my quart bag of 3 oz toiletries, just like you asked!) no matter how arbitrary or annoying to the general populace those rules might be. I’m a good girl grown up.
And I think in part, in this noisy and unpredictable world of ours, that’s why I find baking so satisfying: the measurements, the tidy technique, the right-angled assuredness of a finite project. Baking’s a creative process, sure, but you can’t just improvise wildly and expect a recipe to work. Unless, let’s say, there’s a pint of just-picked blueberries on the counter, big and fat as marbles, and they look awfully tasty next to that coffee cake batter you’re mixing. Doesn’t that sound perfect? Blueberry coffee cake, with a buttery-sweet crumble topping and a cup of creamy coffee? Caution to the wind, people, and in those blueberries go. And sometimes, breaking the rules tastes really good.
Blueberry Coffee Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, 2005
- 1 ¼ sticks (5 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 C granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ½ C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ¼ C sour cream, room temperature
- 1 generous cup fresh or frozen blueberries
for the crumb topping:
- 1 ½ C all-purpose flour
- ½ C light or dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ¾ sticks (7 oz) butter, diced, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the crumb topping by adding all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulsing until the mixture forms sandy, wet, large clumps. (You can also do this by hand: whisk the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter with two dinner knives or a pastry cutter.) Stick in the fridge until needed.
Use the empty butter wrappers to grease a 9” or 10” springform pan (though any 12-cup capacity baking pan will work fine). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed), about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the dry cake ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda and powder) and set aside. To the butter mixture, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well to incorporate. Add the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture and mix until mostly incorporated. Add the sour cream and mix , stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides. Add the rest of the flour and mix until mostly incorporated. Take the bowl off the mixer. Toss the blueberries with a bit of flour (no more than a tablespoon); fold the berries into the batter. Transfer the cake batter to the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over top.
Bake on the middle rack for about an hour (or less, 40-50 minutes, if you’re using a tube pan or 13×9 pan) or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep at room temperature, wrapped well.