Sunday, June 19, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake (?)

Buttery, sugary, buttermilk tender, strawberry rhubarb-y,  jammy-oozy coffee cake.  But is this really a coffee cake?  Is it for breakfast or dessert?  It doesn't matter to me, this is very good!  I probably should have waited before cutting into this cake and photographing it, but the aroma was so irresistible that I had to.  Warm, it was like a cobbler with a bottom crust. After completing cooling, the filling was less oozy,  but still delicious, more like a coffee cake. 

We were visiting Sweetie-Pi's sister's home, and her beloved offered fresh-from-their-garden rhubarb, with the warm earth still clinging to the long green and red stalks. He handed me a huge bagful and my eyes lit in anticipation, as I thought of strawberry rhubarb pies and coffee cake.  I found this keeper recipe on Southern Food 

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake
(found on Southern Food

3 cups sliced rhubarb, (1 inch pieces) fresh or frozen
2 pints fresh strawberries, mashed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cut in small pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar

Generously butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and have ready a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (or tin foil on the baking rack) to place under the baking dish to allow for any fruit bubbling over. Preheat oven to 350*F.

In a large saucepan, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, and lemon juice.  Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Combine the sugar with the cornstarch and add to the fruit mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, and the cornstarch mixture looks clear.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, or use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients, until you have a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs.  In a separate bowl beat together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. 

Spread half of the batter mixture into the prepared 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Top with the strawberry rhubarb mixture, carefully spreading as necessary.  Using a tablespoon, drop the remaining batter onto the filling.

For the topping, melt the butter either in your microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat.  Add the flour and sugar and mix until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle over batter.

Place baking dish on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the cake is done.  A toothpick inserted into the center of the batter will probably have the fruit mixture cling to the toothpick, but you are looking to see that the batter is cooked. 

Cool cake on rack.  Cut in squares to serve.  Will easily make 12 squares. 

Notes:  This may be sacrilege, but I preferred this cake slightly warm and the filling all sweet, gooey, and oozy. 

Cake took an extra 10 minutes to cook in my oven, a total of 55 minutes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Really, Really, Really Good Blueberry Muffins

I may have mentioned a while back that my friend Alice T. asked me if I had a really good blueberry muffin recipe.  Truth was, I didn't, which sent me on a quest to find one. While I accept that everyone has their own opinion of  what is "best,"  I tried several  so-named best recipes from different sources, only to be disappointed with leaden or sodden lumps of dough with blueberries interspersed.  I began to believe I was seeking an ideal which lived only in my imagination:  fluffy, blueberry-goodness, in a muffin form, not too sweet (so that let out anything with a strudel  topping), and without crazy ingredients or procedures.  I had a favorite, blueberry tea bread, so why would I need a blueberry muffin recipe.  Well, I just did and so did my friend Alice.

This morning,  I discovered a really, really, really good blueberry muffin recipe.  It's reportedly from Cooks Illustrated, which was my reason for trying just one more recipe; they call it their Best Blueberry Muffin.  I messed up on following the directions, and these muffins still came out moist, fluffy, blueberry-good!  I'm just sayin' the search stops here as far as I'm concerned.  Alice, you have to try these!

Really, Really, Really Good Blueberry Muffins
(found on

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, preferably the small, wild kind

Put your baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350*F.  Spray  a standard muffin tin** with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt (or you could just sift all the ingredients together).

In a second medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg until it is light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk until well combined, about 30 seconds.  Add the butter in 2-3 additions, whisking well to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking until just combined.

Add the frozen berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss to combine.  Add the sour cream and fold with a rubber spatula until batter comes together and berries are evenly distributed, about 25-30 seconds.  There may be some small streaks of flour but that's okay; it's more important not to overmix.

Fill your muffin tins about 1/2 to 2/3 full.  Bake until it's a beautiful golden color or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.   It's okay if a little blueberry clings to to the toothpick, that may be inevitable, just look to insure that there is no wet batter.

Turn the muffins out onto a wire rack, turn right side up, and allow to cool for several minutes before enjoying.

**My Notes:  Well, as I said, I messed up following the directions, assuming, erroneously that I already knew what I was supposed to do. HA!  I added all the dry ingredients in the first bowl (the sugar should  have been in the second bowl), beat the egg, sour cream, and salted butter in the second.  (I did reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon to allow for the salt in the butter.)  I tossed the still-frozen blueberries in a little flour to give the batter something to stick to so the blueberries wouldn't all sink to the bottom.  I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (mixed ever so gently in 2 additions, I did see that!), and then folded in the blueberries.

The recipe states to use a standard sized muffin tin, but I found I had enough batter to make 18 muffins that  crowned nicely without spilling over the top, as I'm not keen on that muffin-top look and clean-up.