I’m considering changing my name to “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.” Mom is just too darn easy to say, it seems. It’s been a comically rough few days here with two demanding and willful wee ones, and the solution to today was baking.
Luckily, the baking was facilitated by the unseasonal 90-degree weather yesterday, and today’s 60-degree follow-up. Yesterday, after our trip to the beach (yes, the beach, on April 7) I saw what appeared to be gorgeous blackberries and raspberries in the market. Something about the heat must have made me forget they were still shipped in from California or Chile or some such actually-warm place, and that the shipping doesn’t do them many favors. Anyway, today’s more normal temps reminded me that, while sweet, they weren’t quite the have-them-with-some-cream-for-breakfast kind of berries we get at locally at the height of summer – they needed some concentrating to make them special. And, as luck would have it, I had a working oven that would be perfect for the task.
So, what to do? I remembered this strawberry crumb cake out of Food and Wine that I’d made last June, and thought that I could probably update it with the berries sitting on my counter. The bet payed off: jammy berries topped with airy cake topped with crisp crumble – it was sweet relief.
I had a few bites straight from the pan. I had some for dessert. It’s enough like coffee cake to count as breakfast, and I’m saying that those berries may well be downright nutritious. Mostly, though, making it gave me a chance to breathe, and that, today, may have been the sweetest thing.
Black- and Rasp-berry Crumb Cake
For the filling:
2 pints blackberries
2 pints raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the berries with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch mixture and vanilla. Let stand about 30 minutes at room temperature. Pour the fruit filling into a 9-by-13-inch nonreactive (glass or ceramic) baking dish set on a baking sheet.
Meanwhile, make the topping by mixing all of the ingredients with your fingers in a medium bowl until a coarse meal forms; press into small clumps.
To make the cake, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar at with a hand-held mixer medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract and scrape down the bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
Spread the cake batter over the berries, spreading it to the edge. Sprinkle with the crumb topping and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling, the topping is golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
Transfer to a rack to cool a bit. Serve the crumb cake warm or at room temperature.