Finally the berries are arriving! Winter is but a memory here in Ontario and spring has waved goodbye. Summer is in full swing and with her she brings all the glorious berries that Ontario has to offer. Those plain, uniformly perfect, bland supermarket strawberries are a thing of the past. They’ve been replaced by the sweetest Ontario strawberries, some of which I hope to pick myself this week. And very soon the armies of Ontario raspberries, wild blueberries and blackberries will be marching in to set our taste buds free!
In celebration, I’ve been going berry crazy. And I couldn’t think of a better way to honour my favourite season (berry season) than the Triple Berry Coffeecake from Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau’s Once Upon a Tart. A simple coffeecake covered in berries and streusel, it really does not get much easier than this when it comes to cakes. And while blueberries and raspberries are not quite in season yet, I used the very last of my frozen stash of last summer’s blueberries and raspberries.
In addition to the copious amounts of fresh berries that I eat, I’m always careful to buy berries at their peak and then freeze them. These frozen berries will carry us through the long winter and well into the spring.
Freezing berries is a simple process. Wash and dry your berries carefully and remove any that are damaged. Spread your berries in one layer on a baking sheet and then slide the sheet into the freezer for several hours. This will allow the berries to freeze individually. Once the berries are frozen, remove the sheet from the freezer and divide your berries into freezer bags or into containers with lids that lock securely to form an airtight seal. I use freezer bags because I can easily stack them in my small freezer.
If you are using freezer bags, the key is to ensure that the berries are airtight. Before sealing the bag completely be sure to remove all the air from the bag as this will prevent freezer burn. Labelling your bag or container with the date also helps just in case you forget when exactly you froze the berries. Mind you this never happens in my house as the berries are long gone before that question even arises!
The Triple Berry Coffeecake is a cinch to make. You can use any combination of berries you like. As the cake bakes, the berries blend together to form a lovely layer of fruit that in spots will bake into the cake. The streusel topping turns out beautifully golden. The original recipe calls for almond paste and pecans in the streusel topping, however, I omitted the almond paste as I thought it might overpower the flavour of the berries. I also used macadamia nuts instead of pecans. I had recently bought the macadamias for another purpose but decided to use them for this coffeecake instead. I was a bit worried as macadamias can be oily and I didn’t want the streusel topping to be too clumpy. It was perfect! The mildness of the macadamias complimented the berries very well.
I’m ready for berry season, people! BERRIFY ME!!!
Triple Berry Coffeecake
Adapted from Once Upon a Tart … by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau.
For the streusel topping:
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped finely
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- In a bowl, combine all of the streusel ingredients together. With a fork or with your fingertips, work the butter into the other ingredients until it’s thoroughly mixed and the streusel is crumbly in texture. Set aside.
For the cake:
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
- 1 cup fresh raspberries, washed and dried
- 1 cup fresh blueberries (if using frozen be sure to thaw them first), washed and dried
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, washed, dried and cut into small pieces (same size as other berries)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 13 x 9-inch pan.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).
- Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment. Add half the buttermilk and mix well on low speed.
- Add half the dry ingredients on low speed and mix well.
- Add the remainder of the buttermilk and mix well.
- Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.
- Scatter the raspberries, blueberries and strawberries across the top of the batter.
- Scatter the streusel topping over the berries.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool on a wire rack before serving.