July 19, 2009

she bakes boy bait

So, hi. It's been awhile, right? I know. I'm sorry. Mark, on the other hand, is not because he has been incredibly busy -- these past few weeks have been one wild writing/editing/working spree and that doesn't even include the ongoing media tour for Rejecta Mathematica (The Economist, what!). And although he has still made some time to bake (Kugelhoff, English muffins, Swedish beer/molasses bread), and me to cook (carnitas, tomatillo salsa, lots of salads, and many summery cocktails), we obviously have not made any time to blog.

Today's post involves the old switcheroo: he works, she bakes. Yes, I actually baked. Last week Smitten Kitchen posted about Blueberry Boy Bait and, well, I have sort of a history with Blueberry Boy Bait and, well, I just had to make it.

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My late, beloved Grandma Dane told me about this recipe years ago during a summer visit. I mentioned my love for blueberry desserts and she said, oh, I remember an old recipe called Blueberry Boy Bait! I don't think she had ever made it herself but we both found the name sort of charmingly old-fashioned and I decided to make it for Mark, my then boyfriend of six months or so. I found a recipe online and made it a few weeks before I left for Paris. Of course, he loved it -- and now I like to think that my grandmother's offhand suggestion to try that gem of a recipe was partially responsible for our frequent crisscrossing of the Atlantic that year. I know, I'm a sappy dork. But I like to think that because my grandmother always smiled on our relationship and was thrilled to see us get married last year. I miss her sense of humor, creativity, and fun personality immensely.

The recipe on SK is slightly different than the recipe I used but, in any case, this one is really great and, I must say, worthy of its moniker. This is a very buttery, supremely tender and crumbly coffee cake studded with blueberries and dusted with cinnamon sugar. The flavor is simple and homey, pretty sweet (maybe a little too sweet for me, but oh well), and, as far as looks go, pleasingly bumpy and riddled with holes where the blueberries melted into the batter. Mark is the biggest coffee cake fanatic in the entire world and ate nearly 1/4 of the yield by himself in one sitting and it is supposed to serve 12. I think it is safe to say this version could have easily engendered a transcontinental romance too.

P.S. Mark would like you to know that he (actually, we both have) has been working out 5-6 times a week for the past 4 weeks, so he feels no shame, guilt, etc.

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Blueberry Boy Bait
adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which was adapted from Cook's Country, which was adapted from the original recipe

Serves 12, unless you have a gluttonous coffee cake fiend for a husband.

Notes: I have converted the original measurements to weight where possible. Regarding step 4, don't do as I did or your husband will laugh at you. Yes, the recipe says to reduce speed to medium and then beat in one-third of the flour mixture. If you do this, the flour will go everywhere. Each time you are about to add flour, turn off the mixer, add the flour, and beat on the lowest setting until the flour is incorporated -- then you may use medium speed.

190 grams (2 cups) all purpose flour for the cake (1 additional teaspoon flour required for topping, as listed below)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
163 grams (3/4 cups) light brown sugar
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberries , fresh or frozen (if using frozen berries, do not defrost)
Topping
1/2 cup blueberries , fresh or frozen (see note above)
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake:
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan. (Note: Instead, I used two circular 9-inch pans and divided the batter in two.)
2. Whisk 190 grams flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated.
4. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture.
5. Toss 1/2 cup blueberries with remaining 1 teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold blueberries into butter. Spread batter into prepared pan(s).
For the topping:
6. Scatter remaining 1/2 cup blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter.

To bake:
7. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)