March 24, 2009

TWD- Berry Crumb Cake

I spent the morning at the train park with my son and his little cousins. We rode the carosel, rode the train, played on the play ground, and even had a picnic. We went back to my mom's for naps and he fell right asleep. That's a miracle these days. I ran to the store to find blueberries during the bliss and much to my chagrin, they were trying to ruin my nice day by charging five bucks a pint! I opted for frugality and used some mixed berries from the back of the freezer. The great thing about this recipe is that it turned out just fine and would with just about whatever you had. I love that.

I didn't have enough brown sugar to make the topping, so I took a hint from Alton Brown and used white sugar for the difference, adding in a little molasses and pulsing a few times. It came out perfectly. I'll also reduce the butter next time since my topping was a little too moist (but crazy delicious!)

Next time I will also chop the walnuts in the food processor, put into the bowl reserved for the topping, and then make the topping in the FP. That will save me from washing the knife and the cutting board (since there are plenty of dishes to dirty in this recipe, let me tell you!)

With a few adaptations (maybe sneaking in some whole wheat flour?) and maybe even the use of a muffin pan, next time, this recipe is just about the perfect finish to a great day- and comes together with no problem. Thanks Dorie (and Sihan for the great choice). Don't forget to see everyone's variations here.

Thanks everyone for your kind wishes last week. Here are the winners for the Yoplait giveaway. If I don't get addresses by Friday, I'll draw any more I need. Thanks everyone!

Steph (ms0812@z....)

Berry Crumb Cake
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

This recipe is flexible with fruit and flavorings. I'd like to try a mango version with a macademia topping, or maybe raspberries with lime zest. Use whatever you have and let me know if you try some fun flavor combinations!


For the crumbs:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

For the cake:
1 pint (2 cups) berries (preferably fresh, or frozen, not thawed- I used a mix of frozen raspberries and frozen mixed berries)
2 cups plus 2 tsp all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon AND 1/4 orange
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 teaspoon vinegar plus milk to make 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil, butter or spray the pan with foil, and set on a baking sheet.

To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the nuts in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms clumps and curds and holds together when pressed. Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir in the nuts and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate until needed. (Covered well the crumb mix can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

To make the cake: Using your fingertips, toss the berries and 2 tsp of the flour together in a small bowl just to coat the berries; set aside. Whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the butter and, with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until light, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for about 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled — it will soon smooth out. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients.) You will have a thick, creamy batter. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the berries.

Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula. Pull the crumb mix from the fridge and, with your fingertips, break it into pieces. Scatter the crumbs over the batter, pressing them down ever so slightly.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature.


  1. I think the use of mixed berries sounds perfect!! And I love that you made your own brown sugar. Your cake turned out deliciously. Yum!

  2. Your cake looks sooo good, the crumbtopping is perfect!

  3. I want to try it with mixed berries next time to get a bit of everything.

  4. Ooh, love the berries and the red color! Your cake looks great!

  5. I love the way that the berries look in the cake, so nice and pinkish red and cheerful! The cake looks delicious and I think it's great that you subbed the mixed berries.

  6. It looks delicious and very pretty! I'm with you on the chopping the nuts and using less dishes, there were a few, weren't there?

  7. Hey I won! How exciting, it's 6:30 this morning and that just made my day! I have never won anything on a blog yet! Whahoooo!

  8. Mixed berries in this is such a fabulous idea.

  9. The mixed berries do sound yummy. My topping was a bit moist, too. Still good, but not as clumpy as I thought it might be. Great job.

  10. What a nice picture from outside. We had snow today ...
    Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

  11. wow.. that looks pretty spectacular with mixer berries. A little pink and purple... still beautiful and delicious of course. And I love your ingenuity with the lack of brown sugar.. brillian!

  12. Yum! I do love how this is such a versatile recipe, both in what you put in it and when you eat it! What a perfect treat to cap off a fun day of train riding!

  13. I just joined this fun group!! This recipe was great! I made muffins and they were delish! I love your mixed berry variation. So colorful.

  14. Nice job! Your cake is beautiful!

  15. It looks delicious! Sounds like you had fun with the kiddies. :)

  16. The berry mixture looks so good! I love the color. I thought about doing mixed berries, but I think I definitely will use them next time.

  17. Anne, you have one of the best looking cakes out there! I love how it looks on your beautiful plate on the grass. Berries are still crazy expensive here, too, so I used frozen.

  18. Your cake looks wonderful with the mixed berries! I skipped blueberries too since they're still expensive around here. I made mine with cranberries but am definitely looking forward to the blueberry version!

  19. Nice!! I loved this recipe it was sooo tasty!

  20. thanks for the tip on the brown sugar--I am going to try that the next time I run out!

  21. your cake looks yummy , well done !!

  22. I think I am missing out on this whole twd. Everything always looks so delicious!!

  23. Wow, you have a train park? How cool is that. I love going to the park with the kids. I can not believe your BB are $5! Crazy. I would have passed on them, too. Your cake looks so amazing. Very tall and moist looking. I love the colors. Don't you just love Alton. He is crazy cool.

  24. Your cake looks wonderful. Wow I am so glad you posted making your own brown sugar. I seem to forget that on the list every now and then and am glad for the alternative.

  25. Yum!! the mixed berries look great in this. Sounds like you had a lovely day!

  26. Looks fantastic! The berries give it such a great color too!

  27. I love how colorful the mixed berries are - this is one cake that isn't hurt by using frozen berries, for which I am very grateful. Gorgeous!

  28. I love the version you baked and all of your proposed variations! I made blackberry/lime zest and liked it a lot. I think frozen berries might even be better than fresh in this one. I want to try cranberries some time. And, yeah, I'd be adding whole wheat flour too...

  29. Mixed berries is a great idea! Mine definitely could have used a little berry moisture. Your cake looks great!

  30. What a great idea - Mango? That is awesome, I absolutely love mango. Thanks I hope you do try and post about it!

  31. it looks delicious & pretty with the mixed berries! great tip about the brown sugar too :)