Friday, October 3, 2008

That's the way the Blackberry Crumbles

Last week Heidi Swanson posted a recipe for Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake on her blog 101 Cookbooks. True to form, the blog's picture was spectacular and the ingredients are intriguing and wholesome. I needed a non-chocolate sweet to balance the Brownie Caramel cake for our book group last evening so I reached for this recipe.

cooking notes and pointers:

- You can substitute other berries for the huckleberries. I used blackberries, which I chopped into small-berry size.

- Do not worry if the batter only comes up halfway in your loaf pan and don't transfer to a smaller pan. There is a lot of topping, and it will fill up your pan. I found this out the hard way, as my baking pan was filled beyond its capacity. Actually, I'd recommend baking this in a broader shallower pan - 7"x7" or 6"x8". or an 8" round. A wider surface area would give more room to spread the generous amount of topping for this coffee cake. If you do use a loaf pan, I'd make a smaller quantity of topping so it wouldn't be such a thick layer.

- After I had managed to fit my three layers of topping (berries in the middle) onto the top of my smallish loaf pan, I realized that I had forgotten to put in the thyme and the pecans, even though they were measured and waiting on the counter. The pan was already nearly overflowing, but I tried to incorporate the nuts and thyme as best I could. About 1/4 of the topping and the nuts just wouldn't fit.

- As my loaf cooked it overflowed in the oven (but I expected that) and took a good while (over an hour?) to bake. I ended up tenting it with foil and finishing it on a lower temperature convection setting so the topping wouldn't burn. My topping and edges got a bit dry and crumbly. I was worried the cake would taste too dry. Luckily once I cut it I realized that it was nice and moist inside.

- The batter tasted really good and the smell while it was cooking was divine.

the verdict

This coffee cake was a huge hit at the book group. There were only 5 of us present, but we just about demolished it (people chose it over the brownie cake!) The lemon zest, rosemary, and thyme added a fantastic undercurrent of flavor to this cake. I think it would work well with other somewhat tart chopped fruit.

I will definitely make this again, and will play around with it next time. I'd like to experiment with using oil instead of butter for the cake part.

Although it is a coffee cake/quick bread type of recipe, it is fairly time consuming. There's a good bit of chopping, zesting, and otherwise handling ingredients. This recipe benefits from having everything prepped in advance.

Bottom line: This recipe is a keeper. You should make this!

{Update: I've made this 6 or 8 times, in pans of varying sizes and shapes. We still love it! I replace half the butter with the extra light tasting olive oil and it turns out fine. I use two small containers of blackberries for one coffee cake, so I buy them when I can find them at a good price. Once blackberries get too expensive, I plan to try frozen wild blueberries. The cake is pretty slow cooking, and I've found that the standard ("1 pound") loaf pan works the best.}


Audrey said...

There's something about fruit and herbs that is very intriguing. This looks wonderful! Lucky book group!

Matt said...

This looks so good! I feel bad because I missed my last book club meeting. I always enjoy the food and conversation even more than the book discussion!

Erin said...

This looks delicious! What a great treat for the book club :)

Cathy said...

This looks great Nancy; so pretty and rustic - perfect for fall. I always think it is interesting to make/bring two desserts to an event and see which one gets devoured first -- it is often not the one you'd expect.

Mary Ann said...

The combination of flavors, spices and herbs, sound wonderful in this one. It looks so good, what a perfect dessert!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Thanks for the incredibly helpful cook's notes as always!

Deb said...

Gosh you have been busy in the kitchen while I have been away this week! I had eyed up Heidi's recipe too. Good to see your spin on it as it sounds delish!

Anonymous said...

In reference to mathew 15:27 on your homepage, I think dogs should get more than crumbs, but your point is well taken. Cute dog you have, I love dogs!!

I feel compelled to say that I don't think that's what The Scripture means. I mean not "Dogs" literally. Before I saw your sight I read this chapter in the Bible over and over again since people have used this to belittle "dogs". I strongly think that the term here is used to apply to those who were not Israelites.
God Bless.