When I saw that Dorie's blueberry crumb cake was this week's TWD recipe, I was interested in seeing how it would compare with my now-standard coffeecake.
The blackberries gave my crumb cake an odd purplish cast!
- The first decision was what kind of berry to use. Big fat sweet cultivated blueberries, which are what is in my local produce section at the moment, don't do much for me - I much prefer the small tart intensely flavored wild blueberries. There is a bag of wild blueberries in my freezer, which I almost used for the recipe, but I had some blackberries in my fridge that needed to be used up. Who am I to turn away needy blackberries?
- I made this one almost totally "by the book", resisting all temptations to substitute whole grains and reduce fat. This was partly because I wanted to experience Dorie's recipe as written, and partly because my other coffee cake recipe is already healthified and whole grained. If I were to make changes, I'd end up turning Dorie's recipe into Heidi's!
- Remember those duck eggs that I used in the cup custards? I baked this cake several weeks ago, at the same time as I made the custards. I'd read that duck eggs are wonderful for muffins and breads so I set aside a medium one to bake a half recipe of this cake. The egg was just a bit bigger than a large chicken egg. I figured the extra bit of egg would just make the cake that much fluffier (no math skills needed!)
- I baked a half recipe - in a square pan that's about half the area of an 8x8.
- The blackberries were a week or two old and looked a tiny bit dry, so I figured they'd be perfect in the cake. But after washing, patting dry, cutting to blueberry size, gingerly stirring with flour, and folding gently into the batter, they were soft, juicy, and disintegrated into bits, leaving the batter purplish.
- I used 1/2 tsp of lime zest, because I had some already grated in the freezer.
- 340 degrees for 45 minutes.
The crumb cake was light and fluffy and delicious. The walnuts toasted in the topping as they cooked, and paired nicely with the blackberries. (Pecans would also be good.) It's been fun experimenting with the duck eggs. I haven't been able to get any more, but I will keep trying.
So, how do the two cakes compare? The recipes are very similar, except that Heidi's incorporates some finely chopped herbs and maple, has a much higher percentage of zest, vanilla, and crumb topping, and of course whole grains (oats and whole wheat flour). Dorie's would win a prize for "Best White Flour Crumb Cake" (my fellow bakers raved about this recipe on this week's p&q post). But I'd give the blue ribbon to Heidi's cake!
Thanks, Sihan, for choosing such a delicious and versatile recipe this week. If you'd like to make this crumb cake for yourself, you can find the recipe on page 192-193 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours, or on Sihan's blog post. You can see lots of other lovely crumb cake variations (I've heard rumors of cranberry ones and apple ones) by visiting the TWD blogroll and clicking on each baker's blog.
Note to my fellow food bloggers - In addition to giving up sweets for Lent I've also given up Google Reader and general surfing of other cooking blogs. So that's the reason that you've seen fewer of my comments lately. I've been following the maxim"speak when spoken to;" if you comment on my blog, I'll likely visit you and return the favor.