balsamic berry crumb cake

procrastinating: job hunting.

prep time: 45 minutes

bake time: ~50 minutes

cleanup time: 20 minutes

time spent procrastibaking: 2 hours

hey procrastibakers, long time no see! i’ve been meaning to post for months, but life has been crazy. i was working, until very recently, as a baker in a grocery store, which would seem like something right up my alley, right? but the hours were awful (ie, waking up between 330-4 am, punching in at 5am) and despite that, my hours were often cut arbitrarily; they made fun of me for going to college/grad school, someone locked me in the walk-in freezer, they paid me $3-an-hour less than the maintenance guy. and despite all that, i ran around like crazy at the crack of dawn churning out the same donuts, bagels, muffins and breads every day– so the last thing i wanted to do was come home at the end of the day and bake some more “for fun.” it just wasn’t the job for me, and so i’ve effectively donned my apron-and-hat uniform for the last time (hers is much, much cuter than mine).

so, time to refresh my monster.com profile and try to network my little unemployed brains out. i’m pretty optimistic even though the economy is still sad and the job market is flooded with applicants. if anyone out there is looking to hire a team player with a lot of motivation and a friendly disposition, email me. i’ll send you a cupcake along with my resume.

anyway, i woke up this morning (nearly 2 weeks after my last day at the bakery) and for the first time in a long time, i wanted to open up my recipes, find something delicious, and bake again. i cleaned the whole kitchen, broke out my lovely kitchenaid stand mixer, and cracked open the bon appetit desserts cookbook, which my boyfriend’s wonderful mother, kathy, gave me last christmas.

bon appetit suggested i make a blueberry coffee cake; i decided i’d tweak it a little because a) i had no blueberries and b) it wouldn’t be procrastibaking if i just meekly followed a recipe without getting a little funky.

ingredients. 

tools.

  • stand mixer (or your biceps and a spatula)
  • mixing bowl
  • large pot
  • greased cake pan (mine was an 8″x8″ square)
  • measuring cups/spoons
  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 medium glass (pyrex) bowl
  • a strainer

berry blend.

  • 3 cups fresh berries, or ~12 oz. frozen berries. i used frozen mixed berries.
  • 2 cups of sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water

topping.

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) softened butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

batter.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (i used skim, use what you’ve got!)
step one.

add water and berries to your large pot, and place on medium heat on the stovetop. add one cup of sugar, and stir well.

step two.

as your berries are boiling, combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter (half a stick), 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in your mixing bowl. blend until the ingredients are moist and crumbly, and then transfer the topping to your small bowl.

step three.

when the berries have been on a rolling boil for about 5-7 minutes, add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and the other cup of sugar. continue to stir well; the temperature on the stovetop should be somewhere between medium and low at this point. simmer for about 10 more minutes.

step four.

transfer the berry goo to a heat-safe bowl (glass or pyrex) and toss in the fridge. this will help it congeal a little and become more like jam. it's fine to use right away, but once it's cool, transfer it to a sealed container (tupperware) and store no longer than 5-7 days.

step five.

in your mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder and stir til blended. then, add the stick of softened butter and blend.

step six.

then, add the milk-- i did mine in thirds-- so the batter becomes nice and smooth.

step seven.

now, because i'm impatient, i decided to use my berry blend right away. i wanted to have chunks of berries in my cake, so i decided to strain out the liquid and use about 1.5 cups of berries, but there's a tradeoff: these berries still have seeds in them, and so that's something to be aware of. if you'd rather just have a swirl of berry flavor, you can add just the strained berry juice, but i wouldn't add more than 1/2 a cup (if that!) because you don't want the batter to get too runny. if you're adding liquid, start slowly with, like, a quarter cup, and work your way up. but anyway: strain some berries, and add either the berries or the juice to your batter, blending just enough that it's a swirl, not a purpley mess.

step eight.

pour the batter into your greased (and floured!) pan. flour will help prevent the cake from sticking on the bottom. i learned this the hard way. 🙂

step nine.

crumble off little bits of the topping we prepared in the beginning, and sprinkle them all over the top of your cake until the whole thing's covered in buttery brown sugar goodness. pop this into the oven at 380 degrees, and check after 45 minutes or so. if you insert a knife in the center, it should come out clean.

voila! balsamic berry crumb cake! we are BACK!
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1 Comment

Filed under 2 Hour Recipe, cake

One response to “balsamic berry crumb cake

  1. liza

    WELCOME BACK!!! I’d have to tailor this as strawberries and I do NOT get along — I know I shouldn’t let a little thing like anaphylactic shock get in the way, but call me careful …. hahahaha … I’ll make with blueberries and let ya know how it turns out. 😉

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