Warm, crumbly coffee cake, hot out of the oven, cooling on the counter. On a bleak, rainy afternoon, is there anything more welcoming and neighborly than sharing that?
I’ve been delivering food and my homemade treats to my Meals on Wheels seniors for about five years now, and I try not to repeat too many of my favorites in a given year. Sure, some baked goods have a way of resurfacing more often (like this lemon cake and that insanely chocolate-y goodness) but I think my people get excited about newness as much as anybody, so I like to switch it up with different offerings.
Cookies one week. Soup the next. Icebox cake the following. A corn salad the week after that. Then I’ll offer a great bar cookie — you get the idea. And it dawned on me this week as the rain returned that it had been a good long time since I had made a coffee cake.
Shame on me. Don’t I remember that a good slice of cake mid-morn is about as delicious as it gets?
Time to forage.
This week I had two large packages of blackberries in the fridge, and my smoothie-making and snacking was hardly putting a dent in the supply, so I pulled them out. I also had quite a few lemons on hand, so I zested those just in case.
A good coffee cake is often very similar to a well-crafted muffin, so I pulled out one of my favorite all-around baking books. You know the one — I’ve talked about it before.
Ms. Chattman has a recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins that I have used countless times before, so I started with that and gave it a good tweak, substituting the fruit and swapping out almond extract for the vanilla called for originally in the recipe. Turns out that lemon zest was able to find a home in this recipe, and it made the dish even more fragrant.
And because I was looking for something really rustic looking, I cooked it up in a Pyrex dish so my slices would stand thick and proud. It may not be the prettiest coffee cake you’ve ever seen, but I love how the blackberries peak out of the moist, yogurty crumb. They seem to beckon: greatness resides within.
And in case we really do only go around once, I added an almond topping. Something about almonds and berries — especially the darker, inkier ones — gets me every time.
This is how it looked just before going in the oven.
My blackberries were so juicy that they really colored the batter, but never fear; cooking tamed the purple beast and it came out looking scrumptious.
And the smell of toasted almonds and brown sugar wafting through my kitchen? Words fail.
But hang on. I wasn’t through yet.
There was some serious lily-gilding about to happen.
I made a simple blackberry-tinted icing and prepared to take the coffee cake to another level.
All right Mr. DeMille, she’s ready for her close-up.
She looked so pretty I had to ravish her, right there on the spot.
Allow to cool? You must be kidding, right?
I can’t wait to share it with my people tomorrow. What’s left, that is.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ⅔ C. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ tsp. pure almond extract
- 2 tsp. lemon zest (I doubled her suggested 1 tsp.)
- 1 C. low-fat plain yogurt
- about 2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
- 1 C. blanched almonds, slivers or slices
- 1 Tbs. butter, melted
- ½ C. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 Tbs. flour
- pinch salt
- 1 C. confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tbs. milk
- 1-2 scant drops vanilla or almond extract
- 1-2 blackberries (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat with cooking spray one 8 X 8 Pyrex dish (or could you do 12 muffins).
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
- Whisk together the cooled melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and yogurt in a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in the fllour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in the blackberries.
- Make the topping: toss all those ingredients in a separate bowl. Set aside.
- Scoop batter into Pyrex dish and sprinkle topping over the surface.
- Bake until the a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 35-40 minutes).
- As cake is cooling, make glaze. Smash blackberries in with other glaze ingredients and whisk until desired consistency (add more milk or more sugar to your liking). Strain to remove seeds, and when cake is cooled, drizzle on top.