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Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Treat yourself first thing in the morning with some baked goodness that we swear doesn’t count as dessert: buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake with a sugar-crystalized top and, inside, moist crumbs bursting with blueberries. This berry coffee cake tastes just like blueberry muffins, but without the hassle and mess of dealing with all of those muffin cups.

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One of the tricks to a delicious coffee cake is incorporating sour cream, and we followed that concept with our recipe — but instead, we poured on the buttermilk. That’s not just because we’re obsessed with the rich flavor and tangy edge it gives to our favorite muffins and cakes, though. The reason buttermilk has a magical effect on baked goods is science: the acidity helps break down tough strands of gluten to keep your cake moist and tender. (And if you’re hesitant to buy buttermilk because you always end up with a half-full pint languishing on the fridge drawer, you can always use our tip for how to make buttermilk at home in minutes–no churning necessary.)

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What’s up with that step where you flour the blueberries? This is a tip every muffin (wo)man swears by: coat your fruit in a bit of the dry ingredients before you mix them in to stop them from sinking to the bottom and bleeding into the batter — so don’t skip it or you’ll end up with a blue, soggy-bottomed breakfast cake!

This buttermilk blueberry coffee cake is ideal for a lazy Sunday morning with a mug of coffee. The sweet smells wafting from the oven will get everyone out of bed and into the kitchen, so serve them slices topped with more fresh blueberries and a swirl of whipped cream or greek yogurt on top… and serve yourself two!

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Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Makes one 8- or 9-inch cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • Zest from 1 lemon or orange
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups (9 oz) flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups (10 oz) fresh or frozen blueberries (see Chef’s Tip below)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract (or a combination of the two)
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse sugar (optional — see Chef’s Tip below)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with the citrus zest and ½ cup sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of the flour mixture.
  5. Mix the remaining flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. After the batter is mostly combined, fold in the flour-coated blueberries.
  6. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan (or something of similar size). Spread the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the coarse sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is cooked through. Check for doneness with a toothpick after 35 minutes. If needed, return the pan to the oven for a few more minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Chef’s Tips

  • Don’t wait for blueberry season! If you use frozen blueberries, you don’t have to thaw them out before baking, but you will most likely need to cook the cake for longer than 35 minutes. You should still check after 35 minutes to gauge how much longer the cake will need.
  • Sanding sugar, Demerara sugar, or turbinado sugar are good options for coarse sugars to sprinkle on top of the cake.
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What sweet brunch recipes get you up and out of bed on a weekend morning? If you’re scheming up more ways to eat dessert for breakfast, look no further than our breakfast banana split! But if you’re more of a savory brunch person, try our breakfast pizza crown.

Recipe adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen.