Friday, April 23, 2010

All Happiness Depends on Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake . . .

"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast." -- John Gunther

What befits an unhurried breakfast on a sunny spring morning more perfectly than a slice of fresh homemade coffeecake? A relaxed breakfast can be just the gentle launching pad one longs for at the start of such a day.  

Best enjoyed in a quiet cozy nook with someone you love, or lounging alone in the most pleasant corner of your own backyard, this is the kind of meal that leads you to appreciate morning's finest attributes.

"Full many a glorious morning have I seen." -- William Shakespeare, Sonnet XXXIII

Adapted from Margaret Fox and John B. Bear's book, Morning Food, this recipe isn't complicated, but it does take time to assemble. By necessity, I made a few minor changes to the original formula, though nothing that radically altered the intended character of the finished product.

Instead of using yogurt, I subbed in sour cream with a little milk; instead of using apple juice in the mixture with the berries, I used strained orange juice with a smidgen of added sugar. I also omitted lemon zest from the batter, because I didn't want a strong citrus factor. And, as usual, I reworded the instructions here and there.

The resulting coffee cake was pretty darn delicious, I must say. Not too sweet, not too cream cheesy. And the thin, crunchy almonds in the topping? Well, let's just say "yum" and leave it at that.

Oh, yes--one more thing I must divulge. You know the kind of recipe that, once completed, impels you to express deep and abiding love for your high-capacity dishwasher? Well, I won't lie to you, this is one of those. Mmm hmm, it's a bit of a dirty-dish factory.

That, however, is not sufficient reason to avoid making this treat. Often, the end justifies the messy means, and that's more than true in this case. So, go get yourself some blueberries--fresh or frozen will do--and pull out your springform pan. And have yourself a lovely breakfast.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour, or spray with baking spray, a 9" springform pan.

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen Maine blueberries; they're tiny and very sweet.)
1/4 cup orange juice, strained to remove pulp
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. water
2 and 1/4 cups All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (I actually used slightly more than this, but less than 1/2 tsp.)
3/4 cup sour cream (I used regular)
3 Tbsp. milk (I used 2 percent)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil the berries, orange juice, and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Over very low heat, simmer for 3 minutes, stirring periodically.

Combine the cornstarch and water in a little bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. of the blueberry mixture into the bowl and stir, then pour this back into the saucepan. Continue to simmer and stir for about 1 minute, until the mixture is reduced to about 3/4 cup; set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the 3/4 cup of sugar and the flour; pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add in the cold butter chunks, and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Separate out 1 cup of this mixture and set it aside in a small bowl; this will be used later for the topping.
Dump the rest of the flour mixture from the food processor bowl into a large mixing bowl. Into this, stir the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another small bowl, by hand, mix together the sour cream, milk, the beaten egg, and vanilla. Pour this  into the flour mixture in the large bowl, and stir to combine. The batter will be quite thick.

Using a small offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and then up the sides about 1/2 an inch or so; you want to create a shallow well.

Pulse the cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, egg, and lemon juice in the food processor until smooth. Spread this on top of the batter to within about 1/4 inch of the sides.
Now pour all of the blueberry sauce on top of the cream cheese mixture. Use the spatula to spread it around; it needn't reach too close to the sides of the pan.

Into the bowl with the reserved flour mixture, add the sliced almonds and toss them around to combine. Sprinkle this all over the blueberry sauce and the exposed batter edge; the top should be completely covered.

Set the springform pan on top of a sheet pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling seems set, and the cake is topping is light golden. Cool the cake in its pan, on a rack, for 10 minutes.

Remove the sides of the pan and let the cake cool the rest of the way on the rack. When it's cool enough, slide it off the bottom of the springform pan onto a serving dish.

"To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning."  -- Henry David Thoreau

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