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Fresh Berry Coffee Cake with Walnut Crumb Topping

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is not your average coffee cake, where you’re lucky to get one bite of fruit with a big chunk of yellow cake. This one’s loaded with fruit. In the fall and winter, we make it with apples or pears, but we like it best in the summer, because we like it best with fresh berries. The crumb topping sinks into the berries, the berries sink into the cake—it really is the perfect coffee cake. To make this with apples or pears, substitute 1½–2 pounds fruit, peeled and cut into small cubes, for the berries.

“If you have access to fresh local berries in the summer, chances are there’ll be a short window wherein they’re pretty affordable. Take advantage of this by buying extra. Just rinse the berries, dry them, throw them in Ziploc plastic bags, and freeze them.”

–Frank

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Moderate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert, snack

Equipmentfood processor

Mealbreakfast, brunch, tea

Taste and Texturebuttery, fruity, nutty, spiced, sweet

Type of Dishcake

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped fine
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup almond paste
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened; plus more, cold or softened, for smearing in cake pan
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; plus more for dusting cake pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels, and cut into pieces about the same size as other berries

Instructions

Position your oven racks so that one is in the center, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Smear a 13-by-9-inch cake pan with butter, and dust it lightly with flour.

Toss the topping ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse until the topping looks moist and crumbly—like coffeecake topping. Don’t pulse it so much that it all comes together into a big ball of dough. Refrigerate the topping until you’re ready to use it.

In a big bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, using the whisk attachment of a standing or handheld electric mixer on high speed (or a sturdy wire whisk), until they become fluffy and light lemon-yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the extracts.

Whisk the flour and other dry ingredients together in a separate, medium-size bowl.

Stir half the buttermilk into the wet ingredients with the paddle attachment of your mixer on low speed (or with a wooden spoon). Stir in half the dry ingredients. Repeat until all the ingredients are combined and no flour is visible.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the cake pan. Run the spatula over the batter in the pan to level it. Cover the batter with the fresh fruit. Sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the fruit.

Place the pan on the center rack in the oven, and bake the cake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick or small knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. The topping will be golden brown, and the cake itself will have risen through the gaps between the fruit.

Remove the pan from the oven, and place it on a wire rack for a few minutes to cool before cutting the cake into squares.

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