Breakfast & Brunch · Cakes · Desserts

Blueberry Crumb Cake


It’s back again – empty fridge syndrome rears its ugly head every Friday morning when I wake up, stumble down the stairs, down 2 shots of espresso, and open the fridge to see what’s for breakfast…

Except the fridge is filled with emptiness while the masses of condiments cheer from the side lines.

Is it possible to eat just condiments? Sriracha, mayo, ketchup, fish sauce, course ground mustard… I mutter in disdain.

Empty. Nothing. Not even an expired yogurt to tempt me.

This week I decided to combat empty fridge syndrome before it started. The story begins a few days earlier with: waking up at 4 AM to catch a flight, work ungodly hours, sleep in a hotel room that feels like you’re trapped inside a Tiffany’s turquoise box with a white ribbon suffocating you,  work more ungodly hours, and then take a flight back home Thursday night. By Thursday night, I’m struggling to stay awake at the airport and find myself passed out on the plane until I conveniently miss the flight attendants first round of drinks. If luck has it, I’ve fallen asleep with my mouth open and maybe even some drool has oozed its way to the surface. By the time I land, I’m a mess:  my hair is plastered flat to my head, my face feels greasy, and I look and feel (if I knew) like the walking dead.

All I want to do is… have some fun. No. Sheryl Crow…all I want to do is take a shower and sleep.

But the fear of empty fridge syndrome is too great to ignore and I drag my body unwilling to the grocery store at 11 PM at night.

Because tomorrow will inevitably be a brighter day knowing that my fridge is stocked and I will start making blueberry crumb cake and beef stew promptly after the espresso does its magic. Delightfully, it also means that the bottle of merlot will also be open by 8:30 AM…to deglaze the pan, of course.

While the beef stew simmers in a whole bottle of merlot, I’ll divert my attention to this blueberry laden crumb cake that is the sheer definition of perfection. How it remains so moist and fluffy without buttermilk requires a scientific study that I care nothing for because I’m too busy eating my third slice and pondering how much more I can eat before my brain begs for me to stop.

Serves 8 in big wedges or 16 in the 2×2-ish-inch grid I cut mine roughly into


5 tablespoons (40 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup, 2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
Pinch of salt

2 cups minus 1 tablespoon (i.e. 1 3/4 cups + 3 tablespoons or 240 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup, 2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint (2 to 2 2/3 cups, 12 to 16 ounces, or 340 to 455 grams; see Note) fresh blueberries, clean and dry
1/2 cup milk, whole is ideal, any kind should work
1/2 cup cup of ground almonds
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)


Heat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan (with at least 2″ sides) and dust it lightly with flour; line it with a round of parchment paper.

Prepare the topping by mixing the flour, ground almonds, sugar, cinnamon and salt, then cutting the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and zest together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture until just combined, followed by 1/2 the milk; repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk, finishing with the dry mixture. The batter will be very stiff, but don’t fret. Fold blueberries into cake batter until evenly distributed.

Scoop cake batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is flat. If using walnuts, scatter them on top. Sprinkle with prepared streusel. Bake in heated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out batter-free. You can let the cake cool complete in the pan on a rack, or just cool it in the pan for 20 minutes before flipping it out onto a cooling rack, removing the parchment paper lining, and flipping it back onto a plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using.

Do ahead: Cake keeps covered with plastic or foil at room temperature for three days. If longer, it might be best to keep it in the fridge. It gets more moist each day.

Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen


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