“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The door bell rang the other day. A casually dressed woman with short, dark hair stood at our door. She wore a pretty, white summer skirt and a black top. She was tan, tan enough that I thought: you don’t live around here. We don’t see that kind of sun. I said hello and she smiled easily. She seemed comfortable standing on our porch, like she had stood in that exact spot many times before. She quickly blurted out: “I don’t mean to bother you, but my grandmother lived here. She passed away in 68′ I have so many wonderful memories of this house.” She told me she lived in North Carolina (that explains the tan) and was up visiting a friend. Her daughter and grandson were waiting in the car. Before she could ask, I asked her: “Would you like to see the house?” She smiled so widely that her eyes smiled as well. “Yes. I’d love to!”
Her daughter and infant grandson joined us. We walked through the house, pausing in each room. She seemed overwhelmed with memories. She touched the banister as we walked up stairs not for support, but because she had to feel it again. She told me how much she loved the curve in the stairs as a kid. She pointed out her grandmother’s room, which is now N’s room. “I loved her bedroom.” As we walked downstairs she touched the knob at the bottom of the banister, and said “I can’t believe this is still here.” We stepped out, on to the wrap around porch. She looked around and smiled. Tears welled up in her eyes. It seemed the memories were too much for her to carry around anymore. Before she left she said, “If you find pink irises, my grandmother planted them. After she passed, I took some and planted them at my house. I still have them. They remind me of her.” She and her daughter thanked me. “Enjoy this house!” she said just before getting in her car.
I never caught her name, but I have thought about our meeting every day for the last week. I thought of my grandmother and her house: the smells, the rooms, the big yard, her garden and the countless dinners. I picked up the phone and called her because I can: “Hi, Jer. Hi, Kel.” We spoke only briefly, but it was nice to hear her voice. I need to see her and be in her house again, soon. Someday, I will be that woman, asking to see my grandmother’s house.
The recipe I have today is for a coffee cake called Blueberry Buckle. This recipe originally appeared the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. My grandmother, Jerry, made this a lot when I was a kid. In fact, my oldest and dearest friends have tried her blueberry buckle. This is the kind of coffee cake people remember, and for good reason. It is dam good! I tweaked this recipe only slightly by reducing the sugar a bit and adding lemon zest for brightness. If you don’t have a lemon on hand, leave it out. This cake is just as good without it. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from my grandmother, Jerry, and Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook
Makes 9 3 inch squares
Ingredients for Cake:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen do not thaw)
Ingredients for Crumb Mixture:
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pre-heat the oven to 375. Grease and flour a 9 inch square baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the blueberries and gently toss to coat. Set aside. Using your fingers, combine the ingredients for the crumb mixture in a small bowl and set aside. You will top the cake batter with this mixture before it goes into the oven.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the egg and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Slowly add the milk.
Gently fold the dry ingredients plus the blueberries into the wet ingredients until combined. A few flour streaks is ok. Do not over mix! This batter will be dry and tacky. This is ok too.
Spread the batter evenly into your prepared pan. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the cake and bake for 40-45 minutes. I baked my cake for 45 minutes, and it was perfect, but start checking at 40 minutes.
Allow to cool in pan on wire rack. Once cool, cut into squares and serve at room temperature or slightly warm. Cake will last well wrapped in an air tight container for a couple of days. Enjoy!
5 Coffee Cake Links You Should Check Out!
If you are a butterscotch lover, you should check out this sweet treat over at The Galley Gourmet.
Looking for a coffee cake that uses Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? Oh, and do you want a cinnamon streusel filling and a cream cheese glaze? Head over to Two Peas and Their Pod for their amazing Yogurt Coffee Cake recipe.
Need a gluten-free option for your next brunch? Head to Bakers Royal for a gluten-free blueberry coffee cake recipe. Have I mentioned how much I love Naomi’s photography? She is incredibly talented both as a photographer and baker!
Take advantage of strawberry season and make a strawberry and cream coffee cake. Averie Cooks has the recipe for you.
Want a traditional coffee cake in muffin shape form? The Sugar Hit has a great cinnamon coffee cake recipe for you.