For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I had Jess’s blog Inquiring chef. I have to admit that when I got the email with this month’s assignment I was thrilled! I love Jess’s blog, her recipes and her photography caught my attention the very first time I visited her blog but what kept me coming back for more was Jess’s kindness that shines through her words and her attitude towards life.
You see Jess was born and raised in Kansas. After finishing the university, she volunteered at a children’s home in Romania where she taught English to 14 amazing kiddos. She went back to work after that in Washington D.C. She got married in 2010 but soon after her husband was offered a position in Thailand so they packed up everything and left on a new adventure together.They were recently blessed with adorable twin girls
Being a new expat myself,going through her archives to look for a recipe to make for this month’s assignment carried the added joy of reading about her experience with being an expat and I think she beautifully summed up the way I feel now as I really begin to settle down here in the UAE:
“This is the part of the expat experience that is most thrilling. Because when you’ve live in a place that is so very different from “home”, you are both satisfied when you get to know it well and continually amazed by its foreignness. Most moments are shinier somehow.”
Choosing a recipe from Jess’s archives was not an easy task but I ended up making her raspberry almond coffee cake because Jess dubbed this as her favorite coffee cake, she described it as ” light, sweet base that hints of cinnamon, tart fruit, and crumbly topping piled high”.
Cinnamon, berries, and crumbly topping spell must try in my book! and the cake did not disappoint.
At first I found the idea of pairing berries with cinnamon odd yet quite intriguing. Like most, when I think of a fruit to combine with cinnamon in a cake, apples are the first that come to mind then maybe pears or pumpkin but berries? I had to try.
It turns out that the tart freshness of the berries works beautifully with the earthy tones of cinnamon, they somehow balance and compliment each other. Add a light cake canvas and a crunchy nutty almond crumble and you’ll have a cake that
Berry almond coffee cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted, chopped
- 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen will work, see notes)
To make the crumb topping:
In a bowl, add the flour, sugar, and salt, whisk to combine
Add the nuts and toss gently.
Add butter; using your fingertips,or a fork, work butter into the dry ingredients until large, moist crumbs begin to form.
Place the topping in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
To make the cake
Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray.
Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a bowl, whisk to combine.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat ¾ cup sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy,this should take 3–4 minutes.
Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy, 3–4 minutes longer.
With mixer on low speed(to avoid spraying flour all over the place) add the dry ingredients to bowl in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Prepare the cinnamon sugar: Whisk remaining 3 Tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the batter in the pan.
Spoon remaining batter over; smooth top.
Pour the berries evenly over batter.
Sprinkle crumb topping over the berries.
Bake cake until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55–60 minutes.
Let cool completely in pan.
Store in airtight container at room temperature.
Note:Adapted from Old-Fashioned Blueberry Coffee Cake by Eric Wolitzky, Bon Appetit September 2012.
The berries and nuts: the original recipe for this cake uses blueberries and pecans, Jess used raspberries and almonds and I used mixed berries with almonds Experiment with your favorite nut berry combo and have fun
Fresh or frozen:I used frozen mixed berries for this cake because they were what I had on hand, I defrosted the berries and then drained them then tossed them with a tablespoon of semolina to absorb any excess liquid