blueberry coffee cake

As this week marks many lasts of 2009, my kitchen and I are marking a first, one I hope to continue into the new year, and it’s as simple as a new ingredient: whole wheat pastry flour, a fresh player in our cooking arsenal.

Do you already know whole wheat pastry flour? Very fine in texture, whole wheat pastry flour comes from a whole white wheat made with softer berries than the kind used for regular whole wheat flour. It’s very fine in texture, high in starch and low in protein, with lower gluten than what’s in white flour. It’s particularly good for using in crumbly baked goods as it yields results similar to those made with regular white flour, though admittedly not as light and airy, and it’s more nutritious. You can substitute it one-to-one for all-purpose flour in cakes, pies, muffins and some cookies.

Working from the recipe for Huckleberry Maple Coffee Cake at 101 Cookbooks, I christened my new-found flour last weekend in a sparkling blueberry coffee cake, the kind that is dense, with sweet crumbles all over the top and chock full of dark blue berries that stain all the dough they touch, creating bursts of almost-purple throughout.

blueberry maple coffee cake

Using a nine-inch round pan instead of a one-pound loaf pan, crushing walnuts rather than pecans and then, in the last ten minutes, sprinkling raw sugar all over the top, I put my own spin on Heidi’s recipe. What emerged from the oven, glistening and fragrant, was a crumbly cake loaded with the tart bite of blueberries and the sturdiness of a good, sweet base.

I’ve eaten half the cake already, and I’ve given a slice to someone else to sample, and it’s nice for grabbing on the way out the door or as a small snack to nibble on at night. I’ll admit I can pick out that unmistakable hint of wheat, which to me still feels foreign in a cake/dessert/baked good, but I’m willing to teach my palate to like that more than what has been bleached by chemicals. (On that note, have any of you tried almond flour or rice flour or spelt flour? I am all ears.) Anyway, blueberry coffee cake made with whole wheat pastry flour is new for me, but so is 2010—and that’s just right around the corner.

blueberry maple coffee cake

Maple Blueberry Coffee Cake
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, Heidi says substituting unbleached all-purpose is an option. But, if you’re wondering where/how to get it: my five-pound bag came from the local grocery store and cost something like $11, but online, it seems possible to buy in bulk for as low as $25 for four 5-pound bags or $22 for a 25-pound bag (it keeps for about six months tops on the shelf but can last years in the freezer, if you have the desire/space).

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of chopped dried thyme
pinch of chopped dried rosemary
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup maple syrup, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups fresh wild blueberries (or other berries)

for topping:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut 1/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of chopped dried thyme
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
a couple teaspoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees, with the rack in the middle. Butter a nine-inch round cake pan, and line it with parchment paper (just to be safe, I also buttered the parchment paper on top).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, thyme and rosemary, and set aside. In a separate large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer or by hand until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the maple syrup and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Beat in the egg, lemon zest and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again.

Add half of the flour, stir just a bit, now add a splash of the buttermilk, stir again a little. Add the rest of the flour and stir, and now the rest of the buttermilk. Stir until everything barely comes together and then very gently fold in one cup of the blueberries. Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared cake pan and set aside.

Make the streusel: whir the flour, butter, brown sugar, thyme and walnuts in a food processor, pulsing about 20 to 30 times until the mixture has gone past crumbly/sandy to slightly moist, like the beginning of a dough. Crumble 2/3 of it over the cake batter, sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup berries on top of that, and then add the last of the crumble*. Barely pat in place with your fingertips.

Place the coffee cake in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. When it is almost finished, sprinkle some raw sugar all over the top to give it that extra sparkle. Let the cake cool for five minutes and then remove it carefully from the pan to cool on a rack**.

Serves 12 – 16 modest slices.

*I think you could safely skip this extra layering at the end, as the round cake pan doesn’t allow for a full layer of blueberries the second time anyway.

**This was tricky, particularly because of the crumbly topping and raw sugar I’d sprinkled above that. I recommend loosening all around the edges of the cake and putting a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil on top of the pan, turning it out, then turning again onto another flat platter. Only had a few crumbs on the counter, so I call that success.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. kate

    Those subtle changes often slip their way into our meals with ease, as you will see. There have been plenty of those in my kitchen in recent years; the switch to more whole grain based everything really doesn’t take long to stick in one’s mind. I think we connect quicker with those foods that inherently nurture us, like we’re wired that way.

    This, and the introduction of alternative sugars, is on my culinary To-Do list for 2010. I love that we can learn and be educated by one another to the better things in life. Even if it isn’t food.

  2. Lainey

    ah, that looks so good! love your cake stand.

  3. Cate

    I love whole wheat pastry flour! I just used some last night in Irish Soda Bread (I added a little gluten to get the right texture).

    Fun to see your spin on this recipe (which I’ve had bookmarked forever but still haven’t made!)

  4. Jacqui

    shanna. those photos are simply AMAZING. looks like you and your new camera have become quite good friends already! seriously cookbook quality. yay!

    btw, i got even more baking stuff from murdo’s sister: cookie sheets, a cake pan, more muffin tins! ohmygosh. 2010 is going to be a baking year for me!

    happy new year!

  5. Shannalee

    Kate, Your comment encouraged me so much. I’m glad to know someone else working on these same goals. The sugar one is most important – the more I read about white sugar, the more I regret all my years of loving it, you know? Small steps.

    Lainey, Thank you! It was a great find at a little antique store, as all fantastic cake stands seem to be.

    Cate, Awesome – it’s great to hear from people who love whole wheat pastry flour. I am on my way. And make this! It’s lovely.

    Jacqui, You can’t see it, but I am smiling ear to ear! YAY for new baking supplies! What will you make first? I cannot wait to hear. Truly.

  6. Caitlin

    I keep trying out new flours – I couldn’t even name all the ones I have! In fact, I’ve run out of room in my tiny apt kitchen, so they’re all stored in my linen closet 😛

  7. Sarah Kate Branine

    you must stop posting such wonderful recipes! I’m going to be fatty patty by the end of 2010……because I just tried your smoothie recipe and also the meal that you posted a few posts back….balsamic chicken, roasted potatoes, asparagus………so yummy! Thanks tons for the recipes;-)

  8. rachel

    i love blueberries!! i have so many in my freeezer!! now my children dont like blueberries!!?!?!? i’ve made muffins, sweet bread…pie..pancakes….waffles…. and only 3 out of our 7 will eat it! boo hoo.. cooking for the picky…sometimes I miss cooking for me….. (my hubs and I are two that like blueberries )

  9. The Leftoverist

    Happy New Year, Shannalee! I’m inspired by your coffeecake–some of my ww flour experiments have gone south :)

  10. Emily

    I love the herbs in this recipe! They’d be such a nice surprise when biting in, I am sure .

    I tried cooking with other flours a while back, but the results were dense and fairly mediocre. I decided, since I bake so rarely these days anyway, to just stick to the wheat so that when I did treat myself, it really hit the spot! (I have a secret love for croissant, which would probably be pretty awful if they were made out of w/w flour, don’t you think?!).

    Best wishes for 2010 :)

  11. Anne

    This looks delish!

  12. Megan Gordon

    ooooh, I collect cake stands and that one looks like a keeper…as does this recipe. I have to say, I’m a big fan of whole wheat flour with breads, pizza dough etc. but have never thought to use whole wheat pastry flour in place of white pastry flour. Coolness!

  13. Shannalee

    Caitlin, That is completely fantastic. Do you have a favorite? I’m thinking spelt is next for me.

    Sarah Kate, Aw, that does my heart good. So glad you liked the chicken/asparagus/potatoes and the smoothie! But don’t you worry about being a fatty patty (ha!) – those are all pretty healthy choices, as is this cake with whole wheat pastry flour! See? Tasty and good for you. That’s the way to go.

    Rachel, They don’t like blueberries!? Let’s hope they like kumquats (wink, wink) – but hey, for this cake, you could substitute some other berry. Cranberries? Maybe raspberries?

    Leftoverist, Thanks! I’m sure all this experimenting will go south for me, too, but I’m happy this first try wasn’t bad. Being willing to try is what matters most anyway, right?

    Emily, HA! The thought of a croissant with wwpf doesn’t sound too appealing, you’re right. I think some things will have to stick to what works, and I’m not against having those croissants or whatever else in a while, but I’m making it my goal to cut back and find alternatives. Here’s to experimenting!

    Anne, Thank you!

    Megan, Thank you for noticing it! I have a soft spot for all white dishes, ceramics, china, etc. Everytime I see something in an antique store, I have to get it (which explains my 15+ unmatching white plates, and I love them!).

  14. Amy

    Yumm! This looks amazing! I’m making this as soon as I’m done with work!

  15. Tim

    here’s to the new… it’s a whole new world. I use spelt and buckwheat quite often. Definitely frustrating at times if you’ve grown up using white flour… otherwise it’s great, ha.

    One recommendation for some excellent spelt products and info is Berlin Natural Bakery. They have some great info on spelt baking and info under ‘spelt history’ on their blog.

  16. Karine

    Great job with your coffee cake! It sounds amazing.

    Happy New Year!

  17. Shannalee

    Amy, Let me know how it turns out!

    Tim, OK, spelt is definitely next to try. Thanks for all your help and advice, I mean it.

    Karine, Thank you and happy new year to you too!

  18. Sue

    That looks excellent, and I’m so glad you mentioned the whole wheat pastry flour- I was scared to try it for fear it would be too dense. I’ll have to give it a shot!

  19. Shannalee

    Sue, If you do – I’d love to hear what you think!

  20. Blair

    One word: DELISH!

    I saw blueberries on sale in my grocery yesterday and was wondering what to do with them. This was the perfect recipe. I started out wanting to follow the recipe to the letter – however, I only had 1/2 the amount of maple syrup (substituted the remainder w/ brown sugar) and didn’t have any nuts. Sad, right? BUT – it is wonderful! I served a piece tonight along side a touch of vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. Once I tasted it I realized I didn’t need the ice cream. The herbs are such a lovely touch – they just add depth to the cake.

    Thanks for adapting and sharing!

  21. Shannalee

    Blair! I am so glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for coming back to let me know. Vanilla ice cream sounds perfect alongside a slice of this, too.

  22. Patricia Scarpin

    That is a good looking cake! I absolutely love the flavors here.

  23. Shannalee

    Thanks, Patricia!

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