Berry-Vanilla Bean Coffee Cake

20 09 2009

I have done a lot of sleeping this weekend. No, really, a lot. 30+ hours since Thursday night. It’s been glorious. I’ve also made breakfast the last few days, as I am wont to do, and Friday night we had a weenie roast (har har) with our friends Meg and Ben. A weekend of food and sleeping? Yes please. And so, the culmination of this weekend of food and sleeping was a coffee cake. I’ve made it once before, and it’s truly, truly delicious – it’s a slightly modified version of the Better Homes and Gardens Fruit Coffee Cake (and let me tell you, that book will never steer you wrong).

Next time, I’m going to make a batch and a half of the coffee cake because I like to use a bundt pan and it’s not quite enough. BHG recommends using an 8x8x2 baking pan, so unless you have an IKEA springform pan with an interchangeable bottom, one of which is a bundt thinger (Liz!), just do as they suggest until I figure out the proportions. The IKEA one I use is smaller than a regular bundt pan so I suspect it’d go poorly to use the normal one.

Berry-Vanilla Bean Coffee Cake


  • 2c berries (I have used cherries every time; this time I added blackberries, which were fine but didn’t add much. Just don’t use raspberries)
  • 1/4c water
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1.5c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 1/4c butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2c buttermilk or sour milk (to make sour milk, pour a bit of vinegar into the bottom of your 1/2c measure and fill to the top with milk; let it sit a minute or so)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (my favorite brand is Singing Dog, which they sell here in Austin at Wheatsville Co-op)
  • 1/4c all-purpose flour (I used naughty white flour for this part, but I’m sure whatever you have is fine if you don’t keep more than one sort)
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter your pan really, really well, especially if you are using a bundt pan.
  2. For filling, combine fruit and water in a medium saucepan (if you are using frozen, use a bit less water) and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5min. Combine cornstarch and sugar, and add to fruit mixture along with the 1/2tbsp vanilla bean paste, cooking and stirring until thickened and bubbly. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl combine 1.5c flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in the 1/4c butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, combine egg, sour milk/buttermilk, and vanilla. Add all at once to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just moistened (lumpy batter, you know the drill).
  5. For the delicious crumbly topping, in yet another small bowl (shut up and do the dishes later, it’s worth it), combine the 1/4c flour and 1/4c sugar and cut in the 2 tbsp butter until, again, the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. I usually resort to using my fingers, pinching the butter into the flour mix, because the volume here is so small.
  6. Spread the topping over the bottom of the baking dish and spoon half the batter over it, carefully. Spread the fruit over this and then spoon the remaining batter over the fruit. Be careful but don’t get too fussy. (Yes, you are making this upside-down. The original recipe does not call for this to be the case, but I like the more integrated, crust-like effects of the upside-down method are tastier than the crumb cake topping of the original right-side-up. It will also probably be less pretty. Just eat it. You’ll be fine.)
  7. Bake at 350F for 35-45 min, or until golden. Serve warm. Thank me later.