Fine-Grained Blueberry Coffee Cake for the Week-end

My dears, this cake is a DISCOVERY. Particularly marvelous when costly blueberries begin softening…the perfect way to enjoy them. The recipe is my way with “German Blueberry Kuchen” from Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (1972 edition). The blurb says “Delicate, fine-grained coffee cake for breakfast or dinner dessert.”

Fine-grained indeed. Likely due to the unusual way the batter is mixed. I asked my baking guru, Jim Dodge, about the method—beating for 3 minutes, adding an egg, beating another 2 minutes. He said it was an old-fashioned bakery method and the key was beating on medium speed.

I posted this cake on my Facebook page. This recipe is slightly altered. Originally I called for orange zest as well with the berries, but I was out of oranges and our family thought pure lemon made a tastier cake. Added nutmeg for a touch of spice. It takes me about 30 minutes to get the cake into the oven. The cake holds its quality for a day or two if needed (I hid some just to see).

2 cups (11-12 ounces) fresh blueberries
Grated zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons, about 2 heaping tablespoons
1/3 cup then 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg, optional
2/3 cup milk (I use oat milk)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons pure orange extract, if you have it
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, soft
1 large egg
Powdered sugar to finish

Set the oven to 325 degrees for convection baking, 350 degrees for standard baking. Bring chilled ingredients to room temperature (quick zap in the microwave), submerge egg in hot water. Spray or butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

Turn the blueberries into a 1-quart bowl. With a zester or microplane, pull the lemon’s zest in fine shreds onto the berries (pieces not too fine). Sprinkle over 1/3 cup sugar and use a wooden spoon to distribute zest and sugar evenly through the berries. Set aside.

To a medium-size mixing bowl, add the ¾ cup sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Use a whisk to blend thoroughly. To the milk in its measuring cup, add the extracts, stir to blend, add to the flour bowl. Also add the butter in a few pieces.

With a portable mixer, beat on medium speed for 3 minutes (or beat with a wooden spoon 300 strokes by hand). Break in the egg, then beat with the mixer on medium speed another 2 minutes (or 200 more strokes by hand). Smooth batter into the prepared pan, pushing slightly up into the corners (this cake wants to rise high in the middle). Stir the berries to blend again then spoon evenly over the top.

Bake in the center of the oven until a cake tester comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool slightly before dusting with sifted powdered sugar. Serve from the pan (unless you can figure out a way to neatly lift it out!).

8 or more servings

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