06 March 2016

Blueberry Barley Coffee Cake

Three and a half years ago, when I bought Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain, the first alternative flour I picked up was barley flour. I really credit this book and the time I purchased it, for deepening my interest in baking. Suddenly, baked goods weren't about how much butter and sugar to feel concerned about. Instead they could be delicious and have depth. There could be rosemary, zest and good European butter and rustic rye tarts. It unlocked a sense of pleasure involved with the process I hadn't realized was there. I made the barley scones in the book and a few other things. Then it was time to try rye, kamut, oat, and spelt, and well, I only have so much flour real estate available. A few months ago, though, I picked up barley flour again, and have been throwing it into everything.

Even in little amounts, I love the flavor, and the fact that it is soft. It's one of the softer alternative grain flours out there and thus very good for cakes and muffins. We talked about unfussy crumb cake a few weeks ago when I posted this hand-mixed, coffee-cardamom-orange scented one. But to use up the last bit of the fresh blueberries I froze from the summer, I decided it was ripe time to make a berry one. Lusting after Smitten Kitchen's Berry Crumb Cake for a few seasons now, I slightly tweaked it, swapping in almonds for walnuts, using a bit less berries and adding barley flour in both the topping and cake. The result is a delicious, craggy cake with a perfectly crunchy lid of a crumb topping, and for so little butter, just rich enough. Everything I'd want in a weekend coffee cake. I made a half recipe in a 6 inch cake pan and in two days it was gone. I'm definitely making the full recipe, below, next time. Hope you try it too.

Blueberry Barley Coffee Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Note: You could use all all-purpose flour if that's what you've got, or maybe swap in a little spelt or whole wheat pastry flour. I wouldn't go with hard whole wheat, and I wouldn't do more than 1/4-1/3 cup for optimum texture. Using frozen berries, I didn't do too much folding of them into the batter as they were starting to streak. I kinda dolloped them in.

4 tablespoons/32 grams all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon/8 grams barley flour
(OR: 5 Tbsp/40g all-purpose)
1/2 cup/90 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons/ 2 oz/55 grams unsalted butter, cold is fine
Pinch of salt


200 grams all purpose flour+ 40 grams barley flour
(OR:2 cups minus 1 tablespoon/240 grams all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons/2 oz/55 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds

Heat oven to 375°F.

Butter a 9-inch round baking pan (with at least 2″ sides) and dust it lightly with flour; line it with a round of parchment paper.

Make topping: mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt, then work in the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk or sift flours, baking powder, and salt until combined. In a large bowl, or stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and zest together until light and fluffy, a few minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Stir in 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture until just combined, followed by 1/2 the milk; repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk, finishing with the dry.

Batter will be stiff, not to worry. Fold blueberries in and scrape into pan. Sprinkle almonds on top, then top with crumble. Bake 40-50 minutes or until the top is nicely golden, springy and a wood skewer comes out of the center clean. Cool in the pan 20 minutes then run a knife around edge and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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