Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going, Going, Gone!

The other night, about 90 minutes before I had to go to work, I decided it was time I brought volunteers a treat.  It was just enough time for me to whip up this delicious coffee cake.  We had our meeting and at the end of it, I said, "Oh, and I brought cake, coffee, tea and cider for a little treat." 

"Yay, cake!"  many said, and went and got slices.  Halfway through their refreshments, they suddenly got wide-eyed.  It grew a little quiet.  Someone said, "Uh oh.  What's the bad news?" 

Really!!  I mean, they must know me so well.  They know I will always try to lure them to the dark side with treats.  Actually, I had no ulterior motive that day - just gratitude to them for the work they do with youth.  What would we do without volunteers?

Epicurious is my favorite recipe site.  A couple of tips - when you go there, anything more than 3 1/2 forks and from Bon Appetit magazine is usually golden.  My favorite though is to read reviews.  Someone will say, "I know that this called for 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup apples, 1 cup raisins, but I added bananas, cocoa powder, omitted the sugar, added agave nectar, threw in some nutmeg and baked it for 30 minutes less than it called for.  And it was terrible!"  Those reviews always crack me up.

Only crumbs are left. A pan like this means you have succeeded.

Blueberry Coffee Cake - from

1/3 cup flour
1/2 stick butter (forgive yourself now for the butter) room temperature
1 cup coconut
1/2 brown sugar (oh yeah - and forgiveness for the sugar too)
1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour
1 stick butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or one package of frozen and unthawed blueberries

For the topping, combine all the ingredients required and mix until crumbly.  Hang on to that topping for later.  Just hang out, topping.  Chill.  You're up soon.

Preheat your oven to 360.  So, the recipe called to preheat the oven to 357 degrees.  I'm assuming it's a typo, because really?  I don't have that kind of oven.  When replacing our dinosaur oven, which for the last 2 years we owned it, I had to consistently pull out the burner and put it back in DURING cooking something whenever it suddenly lost heat, we went for the lower-mid-level option.  Which means it looks pretty fancy but is still pretty basic.  I don't have an oven that allows you to get to degrees between increments of 5.  I'm obsessing about this typo.  I do stuff like that.

Anyway, put those obsessions to the side.  Butter and flour a 9x13 pan.  Combine the dry ingredients (except for the sugar) and put off to the side.  You're already turned off, I can tell.  Don't worry!  So you have two extra bowls to clean.  It's worth it, I swear!

Cream the butter and the sugar together until fluffy.  Why do they call it that?  It just seems inadequate.  Beat them together until adequate in your mixer.  That means the butter is light in color and the mixture is thick and not grainy.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  I usually scrape the pan with a spatuler (my favorite way to pronounce "spatula") between each egg addition so that we can incoroporate all of the stuff sticking to the bottom of the bowl.  That stuff has to join in.  It has to cooperate.  This cake is a joint effort.  There is no "i" in cake. 

Stop digressing and add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, which you remembered to combine with the vanilla.  Do it in three additions each.  The mix in the blueberries.  Gently!  Don't squish them.  You might do the mixing with a spatula.  Treat them tenderly.  Blueberries are delicate.

Pour that luscious batter into the baking pan.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture overtop of the batter and bake it all together for about 40 minutes unless your oven stinks like mine does (I baked mine for 55 minutes).  How do you know it is done?  Poke a toothpick into the middle.  Not a used one.  A fresh one.  Don't take the one Grandpa is chewing on, not even if it's the last toothpick in the house.  When you pull it out, moist crumbs should cling sweetly to the wooden pick.  You should not have slimy cake goo on the pick.  The description of testing this cake is going into a dark alley that I really don't want to explore, metaphor wise.  Lets leave it for now.

The topping should also be golden at this point. 

If you're like me, you throw on your oven mitts and whisk it into your car, resisting the urge to pick at it all the way there.  Once you get a slice, it will still be warm.  You could get people to agree to all kinds of things with a cake like this.

Not that I would dare try.

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