In Summer Denial

As far as I’m concerned, summer continues until the squash varieties on the tables at the greenmarket outweigh the piles of tomatoes and corn. In an effort to prolong summer, I revert to the classics — the recipes that make me close my eyes and feel it can’t be any day other than the Fourth of July. This recipe for Blueberry Coffee Cake does that more than any other. It tastes even better as leftovers or warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can substitute with other fruits like plums, nectarines and peaches, but it's best with good ol' blueberries.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

My mother is a New England gal and I always marveled at the way she ate this dish. While my father and I have been known to eat this as-is or pile on whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, she would put a slice of this cake into a bowl and pour some heavy cream (like a moat around a castle) on it. The unsweetened cream, in its purest state, really highlights the spices and blueberries themselves — try it!

6-8 servings
Equipment : One 6-cup loaf pan, sides and bottom greased with butter
½ cup pecan halves, tightly packed
1/3 cup light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into slices, chilled plus additional for greasing the pan

1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup whole milk
1 12/ cup blueberries
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the pecans and brown sugar. Pour the nut mixture into the bottom of the greased baking loaf pan and spread it out in an even layer. Set aside.

Make the batter: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Work the slices of butter with your fingers until integrated. Stir in the egg and milk and whisk. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir in the blueberries. Pour the batter evenly into the pan and place in the center of the oven.

Bake and serve the cake: Bake the cake for about one hour or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out batter-free. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto a serving dish. That’s when the almonds and brown sugar hidden in the bottom come out on top. Grate a light layer of the lemon zest over the top of the cake. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, a dollop of sour cream or straight heavy cream.

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