Berry Crumb cake

20120824-233150.jpgLast spring I went on a church retreat, and the cook, besides being an amazing person, makes amazing food. She’s the kind of person I envy I admire because of her ability to cook and bake without a recipe. One of the things I remember most vividly is her berry cobbler. I don’t have cobbler very often, and I never thought very much of it, until hers; the sweet, tart mixed berry filling (warm, of course), underneath a light, vanilla scented biscuit layer with a hint of lemon. My thoughts of runny berries and soggy biscuits were over; this wonderful creation took it’s place.

20120824-235306.jpgAnyway, yesterday I felt I needed that cobbler. I mean, really needed, as I’ve been cutting out a lot sugar and needed it back. So I got out the recipe, oven preheated and all, and got to thinking; this isn’t enough biscuit. I needed more carb substance! So then, what could be better than tucking that berry layer between a thick (browned butter) crumb topping and a vanilla-lemon scented cake? What a sweet revelation. Long story short: I got my carbs. Warm berry filling oozing out of those soft/crunchy layers, perfect for using up those last summer berries. Happy baking!

Berry Crumb Cake

Adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted it from The New York Times 6/6/07

Berry filling:

2 cups mixed fresh or frozen berries (or berries of your choice)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Crumb topping:

1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:

1/3 cup sour cream or buttermilk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. To make filling: toss berries with sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

2. To make crumb topping: in a large bowl, whisk sugars, cinnamon and salt combine. Melt butter in small saucepan over high heat and cook, swirling the pan constantly until it is frothy and browned and has a nutty aroma (watch carefully).
Let cool slightly; whisk into sugars. Add flour and stir to combine. Press dough together and set aside.

3. To prepare cake: in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream (or buttermilk), egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Set aside.

4. In bowl of mixer, combine sugar with lemon zest; rub zest in to sugar until moistened. With mixer on low speed, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt into sugar mixture to combine. Add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until the mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sour cream mixture; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl once if necessary. Scoop out 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the berries from the bowl where it will have released some juice. Add the drained berries to a clean bowl. Toss the berries with the 2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour, coating it evenly.

6. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle berry mixture over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over berries.

7. Break topping mixture into large crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might have some berry juices on it), 55 to 65 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: 9-12 servings.