A few weeks ago, I came across a cooking show that seemed to pit home bakers against each other in a baking competition to see who would be the ultimate baker.
One of the contestants was in tears because her dessert hadn’t turned out well at all.
I don’t have much of an appetite for cooking competition so I was about to change the channel when the contestant said something that really struck a chord with me.
She explained that when she bakes at home, she bakes as an act of kindness and love. Baking in a competitive environment obviously didn’t feel right to her.
This person’s words have stuck with me because they express a sentiment that I have found myself uttering over and over again.
I do not understand the appeal of watching people compete to do something that I have watched the men and women in my family do every day, for the sole purpose of pleasing their families.
Sorry. I don’t get it.
For me, baking – especially – is an act deeply entrenched in generosity and care. Sure, you might occasionally bake a cheesecake or a tray of chocolate chip cookies and eat them all yourself after a particularly bad week or hard moment, but how often have you done that really?
Most of the time, when you bake, you do so to share the fruits of your labour.
In my own experience baking, it’s the joy of giving and receiving that give so much pleasure. I have so many happy memories of baking by the sides of my mother, my grandmother, my aunts, my neighbour – the list goes on and on.
Which brings me to this cake. This sweet, lovely cake.
When I was very young, just beginning my love affair with baking, my mother came home from work one day with a photocopy of a recipe that a co-worker had given her. The recipe was for a Blueberry Coffee Cake and came from a place called Wilmot Orchards.
I remember how happy and proud I felt when I tried the recipe and everyone loved the cake.
And that’s just it. The joy came from sharing the cake and watching others enjoy it.
I no longer remember who it was that shared this recipe with my mother and I’m not sure she’d remember either.
But I am so very grateful for that person’s kindness and generosity. Every time I bake this beautiful, simple cake, I’m quite certain there’s an extra special something that bakes into the batter.
It’s my gratitude.
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Recipe from Wilmot Orchards
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup salad oil (*I use canola oil)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen blueberries, drained
For the streusel topping:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan or a 10-inch round cake pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Stir gently until smooth. Carefully fold in blueberries.
Pour into prepared pan.
For the streusel topping:
Combine all of the streusel topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over cake batter.
Bake for 55 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean when you insert it into the centre of the cake.
Remove from oven and cool on rack for 5 minutes. Remove from cake pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cake will keep for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.