Blueberry Almond Streusal Cake

IMG_1730 (3)While we can now purchase blueberries all year round, we are officially in summer berry season. The basic cake is a simple butter kuchen and in the fall I make this with Italian plums and sliced almonds on top or thinly slice apples. It’s wonderful to have something like this in your repertoire. It is easy to throw together, it’s versatile and – well, it’s delicious. You can even freeze the cake, although I never have room to do that.

Use the best unsalted butter you can buy and the freshest eggs. When you are making something that is not masked with lots of spices, the quality of your ingredients really matter. I’m afraid I no longer recall where the original recipe came from, although it likely was the New York Times.

Blueberry Almond Streusal Cake

Yield: One 9-inch cake   IMG_1730


For the cake

1 scant cup of granulated white sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1.5 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour

pinch of salt

2 large eggs

2 Tablespoons milk or cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract OR zest of one lemon

For the Streusal

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar

1/4 cup almond flour (meal)

2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cold

2 cups of washed and picked over blueberries


1 Tablespoon of sliced almonds


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray with cooking spray a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all of the streusal ingredients except for the blueberries by hand. You want to have some lumps of coated butter. Once this is mixed, gently toss through the washed and dried blueberries and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer (you can do this by hand or in a processor, but the lightest results will be with a standing mixer), cream the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract OR lemon zest, salt and cream and mix until light and fluffy. On low speed add the flour and mix thoroughly. Turn the speed up to medium high and mix for 3 minutes.
  5. Spread the mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan. This is not a very high cake. It does not need to be perfectly smooth on top – just try to make the thickness even.
  6. Pour the blueberry streusal mixture over the top and with your hand, gently spread it to evenly distribute things. Bake for about 1 hour. As soon as it is ready to come out of the oven, scatter the sliced almonds over the top, if using.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then loosen the spring. Continue cooling the cake on a wire rack. When it is totally cool, you can remove the outer springform. With a very thin metal spatula, carefully loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan and place on a cake plate. IMG_1699

The cake will get moister and the flavors more pronounced  after sitting covered for a day. It’s good to go as soon as it cools, but for optimal flavor, make it the day before. Sometimes I dust it with confectioner’s sugar just before serving but it will seep into the berries over time.

Baked French Toast

Brunch may be my favorite meal to cook, mainly because it’s usually synonymous with a lazy morning where I’m taking it easy after sleeping in, and then getting ready for a leisurely day reading the paper.


While I have a great French Toast recipe, every once in a while it’s fun to try a new variation on an old classic.  We were traveling around Lenox, MA a few years ago while hanging out at Tanglewood and came across an excellent brunch place that happened to have “baked French toast.”  It was the first time I had come across it, but it looked so decadent and filling that I promised myself I would try to make it one day.


Three years later I have *finally* gotten around to it!  Since it was only for two, I ended up just halving the recipe and using a regular loaf pan (about 9″ x 4-5″) instead of the 9 x 13″ in the original recipe.  However, I used just as much bread from the original recipe.  (The following is for two portions using the loaf pan.)


Butter, for greasing
3 eggs
1.5 cups whole milk
1/3 cup maple syrup, plus extra for serving
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 tablespoon
pinch kosher salt
1 lemon, zested
8 ounces day-old challah or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cups (6 ounces) fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained blueberries
1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar


  1. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 4-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest. Add the bread cubes and mix until coated. Stir in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the egg mixture in an even layer.
  4. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set.
  5. Spoon onto serving plates and drizzle with maple syrup.

Serves 2

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network.  

Summer’s Berry Bounty


I eat berries all year long, but I go a little crazy during the peak summer berry months. And other than a great apple pie, I love nothing more than a berry pie. But sometimes I want to try something a little different so I have been making crisps, crumbles and a Blackberry Buckle. I admit it – the name just tickles me.

I found a recipe at Food52, a fun food blog with recipes and one-of-a-kind items for purchase. The author of this cornbread buckle is Janeofmanytrade, a pastry chef out of Williamsburg, VA. The recipe intrigued me because I had never thought of adding cardamom and rose water to my berries. Now I am the kind of person who actually keeps things like pomegranate molasses, rose water and orange blossom water on hand. However, I am also the kind of person whose pantry gets disorganized from time to time. Okay, if I’m being really honest, it only gets ORGANIZED from time to time. For the life of me I couldn’t find the rose water so I substituted orange blossom water instead. The result was wonderful! And it was easy to make. The first night I served it with some vanilla ice cream, but after that – once the flavors became even more pronounced, I didn’t want anything (even great vanilla ice cream) to get between me and my blackberries – all purple and dimpling the cake.

Here’s how I made it.     Blackberry Buckle

Blackberry Buckle

Makes one 10 x 10 inch pan and easily serves 9-12 people

For Cake

4 cups of blackberries

1/2 cup of sugar

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon rose water (I used orange blossom water)

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

6 ounces of unsalted butter, softened

1.5 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1.5 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups yellow cornmeal

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can add a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to any kind of milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You could also add some plain Greek yogurt to regular milk)

Oatmeal crumb topping

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 rounded 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons COLD unsalted butter, cut into cubes

With your fingers, work the ingredients for the crumb topping until the butter is pea-sized and well coated with everything else.


  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl, tossing the berries gently.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lavishly butter and lightly flour your pan. Use a pan that has a good weight to it. Cream the butter, sugar,vanilla and salt until creamy. I used a heavy duty standing mixer, but this could be done by hand.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and scrape the bowl as you go. Sift the flour, cornmeal (as best you can) and the baking powder over the batter and gently fold it in. Slowly add the buttermilk and mix through until no streaks show.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and even out the top.
  5. Pour the berry mixture on top and spread it evenly over the batter.
  6. Sprinkle the oatmeal crumb mixture evenly over the top and bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the cake part. Depending on your oven, this can take between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes.
  7. You can turn this out of the pan after about 20 minutes flipping it over onto a plate, but I couldn’t see the point. I cut it in the pan and served it from there, still slightly warm from the oven. It was wonderful. This will last about 3 days if you can manage to not eat it. I dare you!