Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blueberry Crumb Cake from John Barricelli's "The Seasonal Baker"

John Barricelli, Chef and
author of "The Seasonal Baker"
It’s blueberry season but I’ll take any excuse for making this combination of a vanilla cake with fresh blueberries and a chunky brown sugar crumb topping.  And since it can be eaten straight from the oven as a breakfast pastry or saved for an afternoon snack or a dessert with dinner, it’s ideal to have on hand over a weekend.  It’s another one of Baker John Barricelli’s triumphs from his South Norwalk CT SoNo Bakery.  You’ll find it in his latest book “The Seasonal Baker” 
(Clarkson Potter 2012) which we’ve raved about most recently for its French Lemon Tart.   What we loved about the tart—the concentrated lemon curd flavor of the filling—is mirrored in the intense blueberry flavor in this cake.  There’s even a juicy quality to the blueberries hidden under the topping.

The blueberry itself is North America’s gift to the rest of the world.  It is a native plant that didn’t even get to Europe until the 1930s.  The blueberry plant varies wildly in size ranging from just under 4 inches tall to the “highbush” which can grow to 13 feet tall. 

         The lower growing species are synonymous with ‘wild blueberries’ and both low and high varieties are commercially cultivated.  Blueberries typically bear fruit in the middle of the growing season which is right about now on Long Island but may be later in states particularly known for their blueberries like Maine.  In fact, Maine produces 25 percent of the countries low bush berries and the Wild blueberry is the official fruit of Maine.  But the crown for blueberry growing goes to Michigan where highbush production produces over 220,000 tons of blueberries, which is 32% of all the berries eaten in the United States. But wherever your blueberries come from, put them to great use in this wonderful breakfast, lunch or dinner treat.  In the recipe there's a request for an odd-sized baking dish (12 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches).  Andrew who takes directions very seriously was thrilled to find we had one the right length and width if not height. I think the point here is to find something approximately that size remembering that the height of the crumb cake should be 1 1/4 inches.  Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake from John Barricelli’s “The Seasonal Baker”.  Makes 12- 3 inch squares.  Prep Time 30 minutes.  Total Time 1 1/2 hours including 10 minutes cooling time.  

For the Crumb Topping:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

For the Cake:
1 ½ cups plus 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries
1 to 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar

Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the
oven to 350°F. Spray a 12¼ by 8¼ by 1¼-inch baking dish with
nonstick cooking spray. Coat with our and tap out the excess.
To make the crumb topping: In a large bowl, sift the flour with
the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Melt the butter in a small
saucepan; let cool for 2 minutes. Pour the melted butter over the
our mixture. Work the mixture with your fingertips to press
into nice large crumbs; set aside.

To make the cake: In a large bowl, stir together 1½ cups of the
our, the baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, granulated sugar,
oil, egg, and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Stir until the
flour is absorbed. 

Using a small offset spatula, spread the batter
over the prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour. 

Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the cake batter. 

Scatter the crumb topping over the top; it will completely cover the berries.

Bake, rotating the pan about two-thirds of the way through the
baking time, until the topping is golden brown, the blueberries
are bubbling, and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake
comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack 
and allow to cool for 10 minutes, or completely.

Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top. 

Cut into twelve 3-inch

squares to serve.


  1. I am going to make this today to celebrate my daughter's victory. Looks delicious.

  2. A super way to celebrate thanks to your brother and John Barricelli!