Monday, July 11, 2011

Blueberry Streusel Cake

I had a bounty of blueberries left over from the red, white, and blue fruit salad I had made for the 4th and needed something to do with them.  I've been reading the Pioneer Woman's blog for a couple of weeks now and I absolutely fell in love with it.  Her pictures are beautiful, her stories are charming, and her Bassett Hounds are hilarious.  I decided to search her site for a blueberry recipe and found one for a blueberry crumb (streusel) cake.  Think of it as a blueberry coffee cake.  I love coffee cake and anything with streusel topping, plus this recipe called for 2 cups of blueberries which was pretty much the rest of my store.

The cake come together nicely, but for the streusel topping I needed a pastry cutter.  There's a shopping center near me that seems to have everything I could ever possibly need: a Dick's, Michael's, and a Chef Central.  I've never been in Chef Central before but I fell in love with it the same way I did with Fairway Market when I found the vanilla beans.  I was dragging my brother and his friend along so I had no time to gawk, but I do look forward on trips there in the future.  I love Jersey and it's shopping centers, nothing else compares. 

So anyways, I'm back home with my brand new pastry cutter.  I had all of the ingredients for the streusel in a bowl and just began mashing it as if I was mashing potatoes, rotating the bowl while pulling the pastry cutter towards me and scraping butter off of the pastry cutter every once in a while.  The streusel went from a powder to a crumbly brown topping after about 5 minutes of hacking at it.  I sprinkled it over my cake and it only covered half of it.  More streusel!!  I doubled the recipe and that seemed to cover it well.  Also, when I made the first batch of streusel the butter was at room temperature and it did not have that nice crumbly texture.  The second batch I made with butter right out of the fridge and although more difficult at first it made a nicer streusel.  I stuck it in the oven and came back exactly 40 minutes later to find this:

Cake entering the oven
Cake leaving the oven

The cake devoured my streusel topping!  The second I pulled the cake out of the oven I wanted to cut into it but I knew I had to let it set and cool down a little first.  What happened to my streusel topping?  Did it get mixed in with the cake batter or was it its own layer?  Why did the cake rise above the streusel layer?  The streusel actually ended up sinking to the middle of the cake.  You could still taste the streusel, though, and it was delicious!! I had two servings.  I have no idea why this happened; my dad suggested that I add the streusel topping halfway through baking while another site suggested that I didn't use enough flour.  So, the streusel was moist, but the cake cooked perfectly to give it a slight crunch.  There's also something wonderful about cooked blueberries.  Regular blueberries are kind of "eh" to me, but when they're baked, and all of the water leaves the fruit and you're left with the sweet sugars of the berry oh wow it's just so good.

I'll be making this recipe again and again.  Except what I should have done was use my own recipe for a white cake, I just didn't really think about it when reading this recipe.  Oh well, for next time...

See that gooey layer above the blueberries?
That's the streusel topping.

Blueberry Streusel Cake
After about 2 minutes of cutting with a
pastry cutter - not quite ready yet!
Yield: 1 9x13 in cake
Prep Time: 25 minutes        
Bake Time: 40 minutes

For the cake
- 2 c flour
- 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 5 tbsp butter, room temperature
- ¾ c sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ c milk
- 2 c fresh blueberries

Finished streusel topping.
For the streusel topping
- ¾ c butter, slightly chilled
- ½ c sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ c flour
- ½ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 in pan with butter.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a separate mixing bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla extract.  Add half of the milk and combine, followed by half of the flour mixture.  Repeat. 

Fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed.  Do not over-mix or else the blueberries will break.  Pour into prepared pan and place in oven.

To make the streusel topping, combine butter, sugar, cinnamon, flour, and salt in a bowl and cut with a pastry blender until the butter is completely combined.  The mixture will be crumbly but soft and will become a light brown color. 

After about 35 minutes, pull the cake out of the oven and sprinkle the streusel topping on top.  Place cake back in the oven and continue to bake for 5 – 10 more minutes, removing once the streusel topping is a golden brown.  Sprinkle with sugar if desired.  

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

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