F.I. Blueberry Coffee Cake





For creative purposes, nothing beats the beach.  For cooking and baking sakes, the beach is nothing if not a catalyst for fast and creative cooking, and new recipes.

This partly may be due to the fact that on the beach, there are no cookbooks.  And certainly rare is the desire to actually follow a detail recipe even if one so happened to appear.

If all this is true, then why are you baking?  Where did those dips and easy things, so fresh and delicious, wander off to?  Well, ahem, I may have found my self in a little competition.  With a five-pound slice of chocolate chip coffee cake.  Not to be silly or anything.  This slice started it first anyways, I had to bake back.


From Rachel’s, the Ocean Beach bakery, my sister had a slice of chocolate chip coffee cake so large, and with a streusel layer so high, that I just had to attempt to beat it.  Luckily Wednesday was cold and rainy out on Fire Island, so it was the perfect setting for a beach-baking challenge.

Off the deck of our little beach house is a minor thicket of scraggly blueberry bushes, which really are more like trees.  But with a tall friend helping, together we were able to pick about two cups of wild blueberries.

Coming up with a blueberry coffee cake for the beach was relatively easy—though there was a quickie grocery run for the extras, you know, flour, sugar, eggs—but the real challenge was making enough streusel for that magic ratio.

I failed.  Even with about a salad bowl’s worth of streusel.  (That’s right, no mixing bowls, and no teaspoons either, just eyeballin’ fun….)  The cake was moist and rich and the blueberries were perfectly tart and soft, but there was just not enough streusel.  Sure, for taste it was great, but for all that butter, sugar, and flour, the golden mound was just not enough.


Oh well.  We’ll just have to endure another round of coffee cake.


Fire Island Blueberry Coffee Cake
Makes two, 9-inch round coffee cakes

As is, this recipe is perfect for a coffee cake lover who enjoys a thinner streusel to a thick and moist layer of coffee cake.  But, if the coffee cake lover prefers an even cake-to-streusel-ratio, then keep the streusel proportions as in and halve the cake recipe.  Or just double the streusel and keep the two cakes.


½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter—or a fork and a knife if you’re at the beach, baking like an insane person—cut the butter chunks into the flour mixture until coarsely combined.  Refrigerate while mixing the cake.

Blueberry Cake

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
½ cup low-fat milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, cake will take about 15 minutes longer to bake)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour two 9-inch bakes pans or two 9-inch pie plates.  Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and cream together.  Add the eggs and vanilla and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Alternating between sour cream and dry ingredients, stir in the flour mixture and sour cream in parts until all is just combined.  Pour the milk over and add the blueberries.  Stir until just combined.  Divided between prepared pans.  Sprinkle half of the streusel over each pan, clumping the streusel together for bigger chunks.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pans, and then bake for 20-25 minutes more or until a tester inserted comes out clean.

3 thoughts on “F.I. Blueberry Coffee Cake

  1. Gary Lincoff

    Two cups of blueberries? I thought you’d be able to gather a gallon or more. We were there a week or so before you and, though it was early for most of the blueberries, we gathered a couple of quarts. I’d add more blueberries and more steusel. By the way, in eastern Siberia, where fresh drinking water is at a premium, and there are endless blueberries to pick, blueberry juice is the beverage of choice (for those not drinking vodka). There is no recipe as such, but when used to rehydrate the visionary Fly-Agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria), blueberry juice takes on a life of its own.

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