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.
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.
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)
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.