Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blueberry (or any fruit, really) Swirl Coffee Cake

My Grammie, Pop Pop and their children (including my mom) lived on a farm adjacent to a wealthy man's estate. My Pop Pop was his manager or care-taker of sorts. This wealthy fellow would occasionally invite large groups of men (other wealthy men from the city) to his estate to go on hunts (fowl). My Grammie would bake over 100 pies for these men per hunt. Several different kinds, mind you. She knows her way around a kitchen.

Well, and this is the bittersweet part, she knew her way around a kitchen. She started losing her eye sight many years ago and has just in the past year or so lost it completely. For a woman who did so much every day of her life, she now has to rely on others to do almost everything. I hope she knows deep down that her value is not in what she can do. I say this and mean this, but I, too, need to live like I know this. We all do. So, as a tribute to my Grammie, let us find value in what encouraging words we can say to each other and the prayers we can say on another's behalf. Let's keep our identities from becoming how much do (whatever it may be) or how much we get done...end of sermon.

Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake made with homemade peach pie filling

This recipe is from this Grammie and is a family favorite. It involves making a simple batter flavored with almond extract. Next, Grammie always made a thick blueberry pie-filling over the stove, spreading it evenly over two-thirds of the batter. I've found that I can substitute sour cherries for the blueberries or just use a pint of my canned peach or strawberry-rhubarb pie filling. (I actually prefer using my canned pie fillings in this cake over making an actual pie.) Next, you dollop the rest of the batter over the fruit filling and once it's baked and cooled, drizzle with icing.

This recipe is flexible- you could try substituting any fruit- halved strawberries, chopped peaches, raspberries, etc- and follow the recipe for the stove-top cooked filling OR use your own pie filling.

Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake (my Grammie's recipe, adapted slightly)

1 1/2 cup frozen (no need to thaw them) or fresh blueberries or another fruit
1/4 cup water
1/2-3/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water
(OR, use 1 pint of homemade pie filling)

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups flour


1 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 tbsp. milk

In a small saucepan, combine first three ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it has come to a boil, stir in the 2 tbsp. of cornstarch and cold water. Continue stirring until the mixture becomes very thick, then remove it from the heat and set it aside.

To make the batter, cream the sugar, butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Spread 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan that has been coated with cooking spray.

Spread the cooked fruit (or the canned pie filling) over the batter and then drop the remaining batter, by spoonfuls, onto the fruit.

My peach pie filling has apples and raisins in it, too.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the cake as turned a light brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out without batter stuck to it (there will be filling stuck to it).

While the cake is baking, combine the confectioners sugar and milk in a small bowl with a whisk. You want the icing to be very thick, so add more confectioners sugar until you have a thick icing. Set the icing aside. When the cake has completely cooled, drizzle the icing over the top using a spoon.

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  1. Oh my gosh..I want to eat the whole thing! That looks SO GOOD. And I just happen to have some frozen peaches in the freezer...left from last summer!

    My grandmother lost her sight too...macular degeneration...it was a very sad thing. She and I had a nice talk one day where I was able to let her know that her value was NOT in what she could do...but in who she was and how much we loved her. It was hard for her to be reliant on others...she was a very independent woman. I was fortunate to have spent two days a week with her over the course of a year, helping her be "independent"...it was a great time.

    Thanks for sharing her recipe...I can't wait to try it. It's raining here today...it might be a nice night to make it!

  2. Me again...I have a question for you... Do you know of a good source of finding out how much food I would have to grow, mostly in the summer, to feed my family of four all year? I found one source but the amounts seem so HUGE to me. What about your preserves? Have you gone through all of them yet? Or did you have a lot left over? I just read your 2008 tally and was inspired all over again. If only I could find like-minded gals around here to can with. I might have to put the word out at church!

    Have a great day!

  3. Michelle,
    I don't know of any particular source for figuring that out. For us, we've tweaked our amounts over the last couple years and we seem pretty close to getting it right. We have a little more of a surplus this year because I wasn't cooking much for a couple months this fall while I was so sick (we had meals brought to us by church members). I find, too, that each year varies in how much of this or that we eat. One year, we wish we had more green beans, the next year we have way too many. Tastes change, you find better recipes for using certain veggies, etc.

    One of my biggest recommendations would be to keep a "putting up" journal. My Grandma encouraged me to do this and I started five years back when my only entries were a dozen pints of stewed tomatoes from a friend's garden and some jam. Each year, I write down what we've put up with the date and then late spring, list what we still have left over from the year before. This way I know, roughly, if I need to put up more or less than the year before of each item. And, it's helpful to know so I can tell Jamey if he should plant more or less based on what we did last year.

    Hope this was helpful!

  4. Now, I associate coffee cakes with breakfast. Is this how you eat this cake? Or treat it more like a dessert? I'm curious. The recipe looks good.
    And I love the stories about your Grammie. That generation just amazes me!

  5. Margo, Coffee cake is just what it's called, but I've never eaten it for breakfast or with coffee (I'm not a coffee drinker). We eat it as a dessert, just like any other cake. I hope you give it a try- I think you'll love it.


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