Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Holiday Food: Part 1

I have a confession to make. I hate summer. I know many of you wait all year for June, July and August, but not me. Give me cool weather, sweaters, and even snow any day over 90-plus degree heat and drippy humidity.

(Okay, the thunderstorms can be exciting—as long as no one gets hurt. I’ve always enjoyed a good show by Mother Nature.)

The upcoming 4th of July weekend in Kansas is scheduled to be a scorcher, starting with temps in the 100s tomorrow and Friday, and then cooling to the 90s for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, I was thinking of some easy summer recipes that may come in handy for your Independence Day weekend get-togethers.

First up—breakfast. As I stated in a previous post, this is not my favorite meal of the day. However, I do like to have a little something to ward off starvation until lunchtime. A few years ago, I made a Blueberry Muffin Cake recipe created by writer Susan Gagnon and published in the Concord Monitor newspaper in New Hampshire. It was yummy, but way too cake-like and sweet for my breakfast tastes. The author even suggested serving it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, so I believe she envisioned it more as a dessert than breakfast. But I really liked the idea of the one-pan convince of a muffin cake instead of muffins.

Today I dug out the original recipe and made some changes so it would be a bit more breakfast-like and healthier. First I cut the amount of sugar in half. Then I switched one cup of the regular all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour. And finally I exchanged brown sugar for regular sugar and added pecans in the topping.

Almost immediately after I put the coffee cake into the oven, yummy smells started to fill the kitchen. It looked just as good as it smelled, and the taste was just what I wanted--sweet with blueberries and a brown sugar topping, but not too guilt-inducing sweet.

However, some of you might not like the amount of whole wheat flour in the recipe. If you’re not accustomed to whole wheat baked goods, use only a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of regular flour instead of what the recipe calls for. And if you like sweet treats for breakfast, use a whole cup of sugar in the batter instead of half a cup.

This coffee cake would make a nice, easy treat to serve holiday guests on their way to the lake, park, or beach. Just sit a few sliced squares out on a plate next to the coffee maker, tea kettle, or juice/milk pitcher. I enjoyed a piece this afternoon with an iced coffee, and can’t wait for another square with my morning coffee tomorrow. (I may even sneak a piece for a late night snack!)

Blueberry Muffin Coffee Cake

For the cake:
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint blueberries
For topping:
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, chilled
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 7-by-11-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat well.

In a separate bowl (I use the measuring cup), mix milk and baking soda together until soda is dissolved. In another bowl, mix together both flours, cream of tartar, and salt. Add the flour and milk mixtures alternately to the butter-sugar-egg mixture, stirring well after each addition. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. By hand, fold in the blueberries. Pour batter into baking dish.

Place all the topping ingredients into a bowl and crumble together by hand until the butter is in small bits. Sprinkle over the top of the cake batter.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before serving. (I know it’s hard, but try to wait. It will be worth it!)

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