Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Recently, there's been a lot of talk about the nature of coffee cake in the Walnut Street house. I was confused because in England coffee cake is cake that contains, and tastes of, coffee. In the United States, it seems more often to refer to a cake that is served with coffee but that can be made with anything, although it is commonly cinnamon-y and covered with a streusel topping. This difference became more confusing when my Canadian housemate Stephen got in on conversation.* So, this cake isn't really what I think of as coffee cake, but it is a rendition of what I think other people think of as coffee cake. It's a two-layer arrangement; cake on the bottom, crumbly topping on top, with a layer of jam stirred into the middle. I used blueberry jam, but encourage you to try other flavors. David suggested gooseberry, which would be great, although I don't know how widely available that is in the United States. The Post Punk Kitchen has a very similar recipe, but they use raspberry jam, which I'm sure is devine.

The recipe is easy to make and I prepared it ahead of time because I had friends coming over for brunch this morning and was too lazy to get up early. I left it uncooked in the fridge overnight and just got it out and popped it in the oven this morning about an hour before they were due to come over. It still had a warmish just-baked feel when we cut into it. It was a great success and was consumed in its entirety.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup Earth Balance

3/4 cup soy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1tsp salt
2/3 cup jam

First, put the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set it aside to curdle while you work on the rest of the recipe. Then grease your pan, preferably an 8 inch springform pan, or an 8 x 8 square dish. Next, prepare the topping. To do this, measure all of the ingredients into a bowl, then gently rub them together with your hands until you get a crumby mixture with smallish clumps that stick together. If the mixture feels too dry and is a sandy consistency, rather than clumpy, add another tablespoon of Earth Balance. Set aside.

Make the cake batter separately in a large bowl. Slowly mix together the milk/vinegar mixture, sugar, oil and vanilla extract. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mix, stirring constantly. Now you should have two bowls; one with cake batter and one with topping. You should also have a jar of jam at the ready.

To assemble the cake, first pour all of the cake batter into the pan and smooth it out, making sure that it reaches the edges. Spoon the jam on top of this, then lightly swirl it around with a fork. Sprinkle the topping over the top, making sure that it reaches the edges, and gently pat it down. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. After this time, check it by sticking a knife in it. If the knife comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, leave it to cook for another 5 minutes.

* Discussing coffee cake with Stephen prompted him to get out a recipe book of family favorites that his mother compiled for him. It is quite an impressive collection and definitely deserves a place in a museum of contemporary Canadian cultural history. It reminds me very much of a passage in Neal Stephenson's Reamde in which he talks about the beauty of mid-Western food; “...he was fascinated by the mid-western/middle American phenomenon of recombinant cuisine. Rice Krispie Treats being a prototypical example in that they were made by repurposing other foods that had already been prepared (to wit, breakfast cereal and marshmallows). And of course, any recipe that called for a can of cream of mushroom soup fell into the same category. The unifying principle behind all recombinant cuisine seemed to be indifference, if not outright hostility, to the use of anything that a coastal foodie would define as an ingredient.” I might try to veganize some of the recipes from Osadetz Family Favorites for future editions of the blog in a futile attempt to prove that I am not, in fact, a snobby Bay Area foody. "Classy Chicken" could easily become "Classy Chick'n" and "Nuts and Bolts", which seems to be a variation on Chex mix, could easily be made with Bragg's Liquid Aminos instead of Worcestershire sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment