Blueberry season is here (hoo-ray), so I thought a coffee cake with fresh berries and almonds would be a perfect way to herald the season. The taste of almond and blueberries goes perfectly together and this recipe sings loud with both flavors; the almond notes are featured four ways (extract, meal, sliced and oil). Lovely for breakfast, coffee, or dessert, this is a delicious way to celebrate the bounty of the season...blue-tifully!
I started with a recipe from the cookbook Great Food Fast (the blueberry crumble cake) and made some modifications. I used white whole wheat flour, but any combination of all-purpose/whole wheat flours would work. I often use barley flour or spelt flour instead of plain whole wheat in desserts. I also substituted some healthier fat into the recipe by replacing some of the butter with coconut oil in the batter and almond oil in the crumble.
The addition of the almond meal in the crumble and the sliced almonds on top also ups the protein content and adds several more layers of almond flavor and crunch. The contrasting layers between the streusel and batter is made more interesting by the addition of the almond meal. I toast the sliced almonds before baking, which adds a deeper flavor element than plain.
The original recipe calls for the blueberries to be mixed directly into the batter, but I found the batter too dense and worried about the berries breaking apart. Hence, I've provided instructions to layer the batter and berries in the pan, which I believe results in a better appearance and keeps those lovely berries more intact. The berries congregate into two fairly separate layers and provide a nice texture foil to the crunch of the crumble topping.
Although made with all whole wheat flour, the texture on this cake is very tender and moist. Once cooled, the cake will travel well and retains its lovely crumb (although the sliced almond topping does seem to have a mind of its own). The ground coriander adds just a hint of spice that you would hard pressed to identify. It adds a subtle floral quality that complements the berries and almonds nicely.
Celebrate the season with this workaday coffee cake that could easily accomodate strawberries, rhubarb, cherries, or whatever glorious fruit is calling to you this spring. And when the fruit calls, you've got this tasty recipe-answer at the ready.
Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (or use all butter if desired)
3/4 cup natural sugar
1 large egg (preferably organic)
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used 1 tablespoon buttermilk powder mixed with 1/4 cup milk)
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, or any combination of all-purpose/whole wheat of choice
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or any flour of choice)
1/2 cup toasted blanched almonds, ground fine
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (preferably natural)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup almond oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and reserved for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
For the batter:
In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter, melted coconut oil and sugar on medium until light and fluffy. Add the egg, almond extract and yogurt, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and buttermilk in alternating batches, ending with the flour. Mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick.
For the Streusel:
Mix all the streusel toppings together in a small bowl and set aside.
To assemble the cake, spoon half of the batter over the bottom of the greased pan, scattering spoonfuls across the pan, and spread with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle half of the blueberries over the batter, avoiding the edge of the pan (so the blueberries don't stick to the side of the pan). Repeat layering the remaining batter and blueberries. Place spoonfuls of the streusel topping over the top of the blueberries, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top. Bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely on a rack.