With this recipe, my kitchen and I are marking a first, one I hope to continue into the new year, and it’s my love for a new ingredient: whole wheat pastry flour, a fresh player in our cooking arsenal.
Do you already know about whole wheat pastry flour? Very fine in texture, it comes from a whole white wheat made with softer berries than the kind used for regular whole wheat flour. It’s very fine in texture, high in starch, and low in protein, with lower gluten than what’s found in regular white flour.
It’s particularly good for using in crumbly baked goods as it yields results similar to those made with regular white flour, though admittedly they are not quite as light and airy. Plus, as a whole grain flour, it’s more nutritious. You can substitute it one-to-one for all-purpose flour in cakes, pies, muffins, and some cookies.
I christened my newfound flour last weekend in a sparkling blueberry coffee cake, the kind that is dense, with sweet crumbles all over the top, and chock full of dark blue berries that stain all the dough they touch, creating bursts of almost-purple throughout.
This afternoon snack is made with fresh, seasonal fruit, pure maple syrup, and a pinch of flavorful herbs in a nine-inch round pan, with a streusel topping that includes crushed walnuts (rather than the perhaps more common pecans), and a sprinkling of turbinado sugar all over the top. What emerged from the oven, glistening and fragrant, was a crumbly cake loaded with the tart bite of blueberries and the sturdiness of a good, sweet base.
I’ve eaten half the cake already, and I’ve given a slice to someone else to sample, and it’s nice for grabbing on the way out the door or enjoyed in front of the TV as a small snack to nibble on at night.
I’ll admit, I can pick out that unmistakable hint of whole wheat, which to me still feels foreign in a sweet dessert, but I’m willing to teach my palate to like that more than what has been bleached by chemicals with most of the nutritional value removed. (On that note, have any of you tried almond or rice or spelt flour? I am all ears.)
If you’re cautious about the added herbal notes, don’t be. They aren’t overpowering, but add the perfect amount of fresh flavor that plays so well against the fresh berries.
If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, substituting unbleached all-purpose is still an option. If you need to buy it in bulk but don’t plan to use it very often, you can always store it in the freezer to extend its shelf life.
Anyway, blueberry coffee cake made with whole wheat pastry flour is new for me, but it’s one of my new loves. I hope you enjoy it just as much.Print
Round out your afternoon with a slice of Maple Blueberry Coffee Cake, made with fresh fruit, a touch of herbs, and a sweet crumble topping.
For the Cake:
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch of dried thyme
- Pinch of dried rosemary
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (½ stick)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/3 cups fresh blueberries, divided
For the Topping:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, with the rack in the middle. Butter a nine-inch round cake or springform pan, and line it with buttered parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, thyme, and rosemary. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, or by hand, until light and fluffy.
- Drizzle in the maple syrup and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Beat in the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again.
- Add half of the flour mixture, and stir just a bit to nearly combine. Add a splash of the buttermilk, and stir a few times. Add the rest of the flour mixture and stir until nearly combined, and follow with the rest of the buttermilk.
- Stir until everything just comes together, and then very gently fold in one cup of the blueberries. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, smooth the top, and set aside.
- To make the topping, place the flour, butter, brown sugar, thyme, and walnuts in a food processor. Pulse about 8-10 times, until the mixture is crumbly/sandy.
- Crumble 2/3 of the mixture over the cake batter, sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup berries on top of that, and top with the last of the crumble.
- Gently pat topping in place with your fingertips. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven, and immediately sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top.
- Cool for five minutes on a wire rack, then remove carefully from the pan and cool completely.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks.
Keywords: coffee cake, crumb cake, blueberry, thyme
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Measure the maple syrup and butter for the cake, and set aside along with an egg until they reach room temperature.
Cube the chilled butter for the topping and place in a bowl. Set the bowl in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Chop the walnuts and thyme for the topping.
Zest a lemon, using a microplane or zester.
Measure the remaining ingredients for the cake and the streusel topping.
Step 2 – Preheat Oven and Prepare Baking Pan
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and place a baking rack in the middle of the oven.
Prepare a 9-inch round cake or springform pan by buttering it well, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Trace the bottom of the pan onto the paper, cut it out, and the butter in the bottom of the pan will help the paper to stick.
Butter the parchment on top as well.
Step 3 – Make Batter
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients for the cake, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter for the cake until light and fluffy, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the maple syrup and beat again, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Beat in the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla, scraping down the sides once again to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated well.
Beat in half of the flour mixture until it is just combined. Add a splash of buttermilk and mix again.
Add the remaining flour, and then beat in the rest of the buttermilk. Be sure to stir in the dry ingredients and buttermilk just until the batter comes together.
Gently fold in 1 cup of blueberries.
I used the regular kind, but blueberries can be used for this recipe as well.
Step 4 – Make Topping
Pulse the flour, butter, brown sugar, thyme, and walnuts in a food processor.
Pulse to combine.
Once it’s crumbly and like sand, the mixture is done.
Step 5 – Assemble
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Top with 2/3 of the topping, distributed in an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining berries over the top, followed by the rest of the streusel.
Lightly pat the topping down on the cake.
Step 6 – Bake
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Once the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center, remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top.
Step 7 – Cool
Cool for 5 minutes before taking it out of the pan.
Remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, or slice and serve warm.
What Makes the Perfect Afternoon Indulgence?
The perfect coffee cake is more than just a slice of something sweet to serve alongside mugs of coffee when company comes to call.
Once you have a bite of this cake, you are going to see just how different it is from the typical cinnamon crumb cake you might be used to – and it’s not just because of the blueberries, though they do bring amazing flavor and a pop of freshness that is absolutely irresistible.
This cake is just the right mixture of dense and moist, with a gorgeous crunchy topping for extra texture. Plus, it has a burst of fresh herbs that pairs wonderfully with the fruity flavors, vanilla, and lemon zest.
The smell of this cake is intoxicating, so I highly recommend bringing out this recipe when you have people staying as guests in your home, or if you are hosting a brunch for friends and family.
It also makes for a lovely gift to take to new mothers, friends who aren’t feeling well, or for yourself when you are having a rough week.
What kind of coffee beverage would you love to drink alongside this cake? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe as well.
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Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 29, 2009. Last updated: August 28, 2018 at 15:33 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.