Recently I came across an entry for “Blueberry Crunch Coffeecake” in my Joy of Cooking and had to stop. The name alone made my mouth water. Blueberries? Crunchy coffeecake? It had to be good. The recipe began: “The batter for this superb coffeecake is mixed like biscuit dough. Brown sugar and almonds in the bottom of the pan are transformed into a cloak of crunchy toffee over a tender coffeecake.”
Ah, how could I resist a cloak of crunchy toffee over a tender coffeecake?
Of course, I decided to plan a Sunday night breakfast supper around it: biscuits and gravy; my friend Abby’s egg, cheese and hash brown casserole; fruit; and, to crown it all, the coffeecake.
I love coffeecake. Back a year ago when I was beginning to count calories to lose the 50 pounds I did eventually lose, I stood looking sadly at a box of Krusteaz streusel coffeecake mix in my cabinet and nearly crying because I wouldn’t get to indulge in huge slices of coffeecake on a regular basis anymore. But now that I’ve lost the weight and learned to control my portion size, I can enjoy a slice coffeecake from time to time.
This would be the first coffeecake I’d made myself since losing the weight. And I was going to celebrate every moment.
The celebration had some rough moments:
First, I couldn’t find a pan of the exact right size. My loaf pans were all a little too big or too small and I had to settle on a glass loaf pan that was slightly too big.
Second, I didn’t have enough blueberries and had to send Chris to the store to buy more while I was mixing the batter.
Finally, I couldn’t decide if the cake was done and wound up burning the almond-and-brown-sugar topping at the corners of the cake.
After inverting the cake and discovering the burnt corners, I put my hands on my hips and frowned at the cake, grimacing.
Abby looked at me.
“You know, I’ve seen a recipe for a burnt brown sugar cake in one of my cookbooks,” she said. “So say you did it on purpose.”
I thought about it. Abby was right. There was no reason to let a few burnt almonds derail my coffeecake celebration. So I sliced it up and served it, warm cake and juicy berries and blackened toffee cloak and all.
Chris protested when I handed him a slice. “I just ate a plateful of biscuits and gravy and egg casserole!” he complained.
“Eat the coffeecake,” I urged.
“But I’m not hungry …”
“EAT THE CAKE!” I said, smiling.
There was a pause. Chris put a hand to his stomach. Then, determinedly, he lifted his fork.
“It looks delicious,” he said feebly.
And he ate the cake.
“Now wasn’t that good?” I said.
Chris didn’t say much. I’m not sure he could move. So I looked at Drew, Abby’s husband.
“Nice topping!” Drew said.
Abby makes a lot of new dishes and cakes. Drew knows what not to say.
All things considered, it was a marvelous celebration.
Blueberry Crunch Coffeecake
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ by 4 ½ (6-cup) loaf pan. Combine and sprinkle in the bottom of the pan:
¼ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
Whisk together thoroughly into a large bowl:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Cut in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not allow the butter to melt or form a blended paste with the flour. Whisk together in another bowl:
1 large egg
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour over the flour mixture and stir until about three quarters of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add:
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the berries are distributed. Spoon the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (other than juice from the berries), 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Loosen the edges, if necessary, and invert onto the rack. Serve warm or, for the crunchiest topping, let cool before serving.