Sour Cream & Blueberry Coffee Cake

I love an excuse to make a special breakfast. This time, it was a cold and rainy Saturday morning at home with my daughter. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from San Francisco’s Hobee’s Restaurant via Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA. I loved that Batali noted that this coffee cake is “suspiciously under the heading ‘Light Bites'” on their menu. 🙂 I suppose it doesn’t incorporate that much butter… 😉

I adapted the recipe by incorporating whole wheat pastry flour, increasing the baking time, and modifying the topping. Instead of using a 9×9-inch baking pan, I used an 8×8-inch equivalent baking pan (it has a berry pattern on it!), which was a little bit too small… Still yummy, thank goodness.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the Brown Sugar Topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Make the Cake: Rinse the berries in cold water and then toss them in 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.
  4. Place a sieve over a mixing bowl, and pour the berries into the sieve. Shake the excess flour off into the bowl; set berries aside.
  5. Add the remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour to the bowl, along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to incorporate.
  6. In a separate bowl or stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and granulated sugar until well combined.
  7. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until a smooth batter forms.
  8. Pour half the butter in the pan and scatter most of the berries over.
  9. Pour in the rest of the batter and drop the rest of the berries on top.
  10. Make the Brown Sugar Topping: In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Combine throughly using a pastry blender.
  11. Spread topping over the top of the batter.
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is uniformly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Let cool before serving.

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Blueberry Muffin Tops with Streusel Topping

Yes, it’s true… I’m still talking about Mother’s Day. 🙂

One of my special Mother’s Day gifts was a “Muffin-Top” pan. It’s genius. (My daughter only eats the top of her muffins, so this really was a perfect gift!) Needless to say, I already have a couple of muffin-top recipes to share. We enjoyed this version for our Memorial Day breakfast. They were fabulously loaded with fresh blueberries.

This recipe was adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious.com. I lowered the oven temperature, increased the vanilla, and reduced the flour in the topping. Next time I plan to incorporate some whole wheat flour. These muffins could also be made in a standard muffin tin, of course!

An absolute highlight in the original recipe was the informative explanation about the origin of the “Muffin-Top” baking pan. It was described as a TV triumph from a 1990’s Seinfeld episode. Here’s the recap:

“After Elaine exclaims that she only likes the tops of muffins (“The Muffin Tops” first aired on May 8, 1997), her former boss thinks Elaine has hit on a clever marketing idea. But when you only sell the tops, what do you do with the hundreds of muffin ‘stumps’ (bottoms) that are left? Elaine and her gang take to the streets with garbage bags of stumps, trying to pawn them off on anyone and everyone. There are no takers; even the homeless turn them down with disdain. It didn’t take long after the airing of the episode for muffin-top pans to appear on store shelves.”

LOVE it. 🙂

Yield: 12 muffin tops

For the Batter:

  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 large yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can use some white whole wheat flour, if desired)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (12 oz)

For the Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Make the Batter:

  1. Put oven rack in the center or upper third of oven and preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection. Generously butter muffin pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  2. Melt butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, then remove from heat. Whisk in milk, then whisk in whole egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined well.
  3. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add milk mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Fold in blueberries gently but thoroughly.
  5. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups, spreading evenly. (I used a large cookie scoop.)

Make the Topping and Bake the Muffins:

  1. Rub together all topping ingredients in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until crumbly, then sprinkle evenly over batter in cups, about 1 tablespoon per muffin.
  2. Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick or skewer inserted diagonally into center of a muffin comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
  3. Cool in pans on a rack 15 minutes, then run a knife around edge of each muffin top and carefully remove from cups. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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French Apple Cake

I’ve had baking a French Apple Cake on my bucket list for a long time. A celebratory Valentine’s Day dessert was my excuse! ❀ This version was custardy and absolutely wonderful. We ate it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream but it could also served with a dollop of softly whipped cream.

This recipe was adapted from Marie-HĂ©lĂšne Brunet-Lhotse, a top editor of Louis Vuitton City Guides (and a restaurant critic for the Paris edition), published in Around my French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, via Epicurious.com.

Greenspan emphasized the importance of using diverse fruit in the cake to include crisp, soft, sweet, and tart apples for the best result. I used a combination of Fuji, Granny Smith, Envy, and Opal apples. I also increased the vanilla, and substituted apple cider for the rum. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum or fresh apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • whipped cream of ice cream, for serving
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
  4. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy.
  6. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend.
  7. Whisk in the rum/apple cider and vanilla.
  8. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter.
  9. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter.
  10. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.
  11. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  12. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.)
  13. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
  14. To Serve: The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-HĂ©lĂšne’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

Note: The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. (The flavor may even improve with time!) The cake is too moist to cover completely; leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

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Whole Wheat Gooseberry & Almond Squares

Gooseberries were completely new to me this summer. When I received my second batch of gooseberries in my CSA share, I was stumped. I thought I had peaked with my Gooseberry & Blueberry Galette. 😉 I searched far and wide for a special way to use them. This crumbly, shortbread-like bar was a perfect choice! We ate them for dessert with ice cream, and then ate leftovers for breakfast. They were great with a cup of coffee. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Good Food Magazine, via BBC’s Good Food.com. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white self-rising, light brown sugar instead of muscovado, and granulated sugar instead of caster. Earthy and nice.

  • 250 g (2 sticks, 1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 125 g ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 125 g light brown sugar
  • 350 g fresh gooseberries
  • 85 g granulated sugar, plus 1-2 T extra for sprinkling
  • 50 g slivered almonds
  1. Heat oven to 325 F (convection) / 170 C fan. Line a 9 x 13-inch (27 x 18-cm) baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, ground almonds, and light brown sugar to make crumbs, then firmly press two-thirds into the base and sides of the prepared pan.
  4. Toss the gooseberries with the granulated sugar, then scatter over the top.
  5. Mix the flaked almonds into the remaining crumbs, then scatter over the gooseberries.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or up to 1 hour, until golden and the fruit is bubbling a little around the edges.
  7. Sprinkle with the remaining granulated sugar, then cool in the pan.
  8. Cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea or serve as a dessert with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

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Whole Wheat-Bartlett Pear Crumb Cake

This cake was nutty, earthy, and really really moist. The entire house smelled absolutely incredible while it baked- much of the credit should be given to the orange zest in the batter. Even more wonderful orange flavor was added after the cake was removed from the oven when fresh orange juice was drizzled all over the top. Fabulous!

This recipe was adapted from Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from our Kitchen by Zoe Nathan with Josh Loeb and Laurel Almerinda. I weighed whole roasted almonds and then finely ground them in a mini food processor instead of using store-bought almond flour. I used fat-free Greek yogurt instead of whole plain yogurt. I also substituted oat bran for the toasted wheat germ in the original recipe. Wheat bran or ground flaxseed would also work as substitutes. I also baked the cake in a 9-inch springform pan instead of a 10-inch cake pan.

The authors offer seasonal adaptations to this recipe by substituting blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, apricots, peaches, or figs for the pears. Yummy!

Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (110 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 55 g (1/2 cup plus 2 T) almond flour
  • 20 g (1/4 cup plus 2 T) rolled oats
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 T oat bran, toasted wheat germ, wheat bran, or ground flaxseed
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 20 g (1/4 cup) sliced almonds

For the Cake:

  • 170 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 160 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 55 g (3/4 cup) oat bran, toasted wheat germ, wheat bran, or ground flaxseed
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) almond flour
  • 3 T rye flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (240 ml) plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt)
  • zest of 1 orange, *fruit reserved*
  • 3 pears, peeled and thickly sliced into 6 pieces each (I used Bartlett pears)

IMG_0372

To Make the Topping:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, almond flour, oats, granulated sugar, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, and salt. Blend with a pastry blender until homogenous.
  2. Add sliced almonds and blend with your fingers. Refrigerate until needed.

To Make the Cake:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line and grease a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and cooking spray.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Incorporate the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.
  4. Pause mixing and all the all-purpose flour, wheat germ, almond flour, rye flour, baking powder, baking soda, yogurt, and orange zest. Mix cautiously, just until incorporated. Do not over mix!
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and cover evenly with the pears.
  6. Top with the crumble, allowing a little fruit to poke through.
  7. Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes or up to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not over bake!
  8. Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan; then squeeze the orange over the entire cake.
  9. Remove the side of the pan and gently pull the parchment paper from every nook and cranny of the cake.

Note: This cake is best served the day it is made, but it will keep, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 days at room temperature.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Forget banana bread, this ice cream is the perfect use for super ripe bananas on the counter! 😉

I know that the trend is to make healthy banana ice cream, but this one is the real deal. It has puréed bananas in the custard base instead of milk. I added vanilla extract and chocolate chips to make it even more special. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. SO so SO creamy!!

Yield: About 1 1/2 pints

For the Fruit:

  • 4 very ripe medium bananas
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • Âœ cup buttermilk

For the Base:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Prepare the Fruit:

  1. In a blender, purée bananas, sugar, lemon juice and salt until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)

To Make the Base:

  1. In a small pot, simmer heavy cream, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.
  3. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
  5. Stir buttermilk and the fruit purée into base. Add the vanilla extract. Cool mixture to room temperature. (I place the bowl into an ice bath.)
  6. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. (I place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the base before placing in it into the refrigerator.)
  7. Churn the base in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. At the end of processing, add the chocolate chips; continue processing until evenly incorporated.
  8. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed. If storing in the freezer, directly cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap before covering with the lid in order to prevent icing.

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones

These just might be the best scones I’ve ever made. Maybe I just forgot how much I love scones because I don’t have them very often. Maybe it’s because I made them with my HUGE CSA blueberries. These were really really delicious. We ate them warm from the oven with fresh blueberries, nectarines & pluots on the side.

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen’s Very Blueberry Scones. Fabulous!

Yield: 8 scones

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons raw (turbinado) or light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) milk, whole is best here
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon raw (tubinado) or other coarse sugar for finishing

  1. Heat oven to 400°F convection. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flours, zest, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add cold butter and work into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas with either your fingertips or a pastry blender.
  4. Stir in blueberries, then milk, mixing only until large clumps form. Use your hands to reach inside the bowl and gently (so gently) combine the mixture into one mass. The more you knead, the wetter the dough will get as the blueberries break up, so work quickly and knead only a few times. (I mixed it just until it came together- I think it keeps the scones more tender.)
  5. Transfer dough to a well-floured counter and pat into a roughly 1-inch tall disc. Cut into 8 wedges, do not fret if the blueberries are now making a mess of the dough; it will all work out in the oven.
  6. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, spacing them apart. Brush the tops of each with egg, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  7. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until scones are golden brown on top. Serve warm. I find most scones to be best the first day, but they can be eaten on day two, gently rewarmed in the oven before eating.

Note: If freezing: Scones can be frozen unbaked. Hold any egg wash until ready to bake. Simply spread the wedges on a baking sheet and chill until frozen solid and will no longer stick to each other, and pack tightly into a freezer bag. You can bake them right from the freezer; you’ll only need 2 to 4 minutes extra baking time.

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