Coffeecakes, Blueberry and otherwise


Coming to the end of July, we are still in a time when some kind of berry can usually be found at a bargain price in the supermarkets, at the farmers’ market or, if you are really lucky, in your own backyard or nearby country roads. Strawberry season may be coming to a close, but there are still reasonably priced blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and blackberries most weeks.

Today’s recipe is infinitely adaptable to any kind of berry–as well as many other fruits–and can be used to stretch a precious cup or so of berries across a lot of servings. It is a good one to keep around in the winter months too, as frozen berries are easily substituted for fresh.

This is a great recipe for a weekend breakfast, with just some juice and coffee, or as a dessert after a light salad meal. It’s also an always welcome addition to a potluck brunch. It’s a very basic cake that can be found in multiple variations in most comprehensive cookbooks, so it is also a good one for kids who are learning to cook to prepare as a special treat for the family.

Is the house too hot to think about turning on the oven? I’ve included some instructions for the microwave too. This variation probably isn’t as attractive, but it still can bring some variety to summer meals.

Berry Coffeecake

1/2 c oil
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c water
1/4 c nonfat dry milk (OR use milk instead of water and omit dry milk)
2 c flour–may substitute up to 1 cup whole wheat for white flour
1 to 2 c blueberries

Crumb topping
1/2 c sugar–may use white, brown, or a mixture of both
1/4 c butter
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 c white flour, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, or a mixture of these
1/4 c chopped nuts (optional)

Beat oil, sugar and egg together and stir in the dry milk powder. Sift the four and baking powder together and add alternately with the water, stirring just until smooth. Fold in the berries and pour into a well-oiled 7 X 11 1/2 inch pan.

Cut all the crumb topping ingredients into the butter and spread evenly over the cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

If frozen berries are used, allow to thaw only about 5 minutes (should still be quite firm) and then add 5 to 10 minutes to overall baking time.


Spread half the batter in the pan, top with most of the crumb mixture, and then cover with remaining batter. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over top.

Use crushed cereals whole grain cereals like wheat flakes as a substitute for part of the flour in the crumb mixture.

Other fruits that can be used: any berries, including sliced strawberries, sliced or chopped cranberries, raspberries, mulberries, or blackberries. Finely chopped peaches, apples, nectarines, pears, or plums may also be used instead of the berries.

Instead of whole fruit, decrease water to 1/4 cup and stir in 1 1/2 cups applesauce in its place. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon or apple pie spice to the batter.

Microwave version:

(Best if made in a deep 9 inch round baking dish, though the rectangular pan can be used.)

Prepare coffeecake batter and crumbs as in main recipe, but do not fold fruit into the batter. Spread about one third of the crumb mixture in the bottom of the pan, then layer the fruit over the crumbs. Cover with half the batter, then add a layer of all but 1/3 cup or so of the remaining crumbs. Finish with the rest of the batter and then sprinkle with the remaining crumbs. Microwave for 7 to 9 minutes at power level 7 (medium to medium high), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Do not overbake–the cake will not be as brown as in the oven. The color will be much improved if you use brown sugar in both the cake and the crumb topping.

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