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A Slice of Oat Streusel Coffecake with Blueberry-Wine FillingEmma’s self-congratulatory “And have you never know the triumph of a lucky guess?” is my favourite line in the Jane Austin novel of the same name. It is also exactly how I feel about this cake.

Brown Butter Cake with Oat Streusel and Blueberry-Wine FillingI love how a recipe slowly builds itself in your mind, and how triumphant you feel when you finally make your creation, taste it, and find it even better than you had hoped.

The idea for this cake started out slowly. All I knew was that I wanted to make something using dried blueberries. For this month’s Tea Time Treats, a wonderful challenge run by Karen of Lavender and Lovage (host for November) and Kate of What Kate Baked, the theme was dried fruit; and I wanted to go beyond my usual currants (although I didn’t quite manage to escape that), cranberries, raisins, and dates.

Tea Time Treats MosaicI had spied the container of dried blueberries at Whole Foods Market the week before the challenge was announced, and I immediately knew that I had to try making something with them. Then, for some reason, I latched onto the idea of combining the dried blueberries with red wine.

Ingredients for Brown Butter CakeI don’t know why. I can’t recall ever having eaten a dessert made with blueberries and red wine. My family thought the combination sounded a little strange. There was absolutely no reason why I should want to pair red wine with blueberries.

Blueberry-Red Wine FillingNevertheless, I was firmly committed to the idea. I daydreamed about it for hours, trying to envision the perfect vehicle for the compote that I had planned out.

Along the way, oat streusel became attached to the concept. Streusel and red wine? That certainly sounded odd. Streusel makes a dish seem cozy and humble, while wine invokes elegance and romance. But I liked the idea of streusel with blueberries, so it was marked into the recipe blueprint.

Cake ready for the ovenStreusel and dried blueberry compote. Should I make some kind of a bar cookie? Or perhaps a wintery crumble would be best. I couldn’t decide how I wanted to put them together.

The cooled brown butter cakeAnd then I suddenly felt the desire to make a cake. A beautiful, gold, buttery cake. Why hadn’t I thought of this at first? Blueberries and streusel belong in coffeecake.

Spreading the blueberry filling over the cakeVibrant coloured fillingSo I made this. A tender cake perfumed with browned butter and lemon, with crunchy, cinnamony streusel on top, and a ribbon of vibrant, sweetly tart compote running through the center.

The Assembled CakeI would say that this recipe conclusively proves the triumph of a lucky guess. The combination of lush, fruity wine with dried blueberries is brilliant. It revives the fresh, bright taste of the berries, making it seem almost as if they had never been dried at all. The juxtaposition of crumbly streusel and the sophisticated filling lends the coffeecake a refined complexity, one that would allow it to grace a party table, but still remain equally at home during a quiet brunch with the family.

Golden Brown Butter Cake with Bluberry-Red Wine FillingAnd I love the colours of the cake: the golden glow that the browned butter adds to the cake, the deep purple-blue of the filling.

Ah, yes, I love the triumph of a lucky guess. Especially when it tastes so good.

A Bite of Brown Butter Streusel CakeI am also submitting this cake, with its crunchy oat streusel, to Alphabakes, a monthly blogging challenge that is run by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes. This month it is Caroline’s turn to host the event, and the letter selected was O.

AlphaBakes LogoBrown Butter Coffeecake with Oat Streusel and Dried Blueberry-Red Wine Filling

Note: Another eggless cake, indistinguishable in every way from ordinary coffeecake. This is a simple, unfussy recipe to prepare, but the result is lovely.

Ingredients:

For the streusel:
⅓ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅓ cup quick oats
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
 
For the cake:
½ cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus ⅜ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
1 ½ cups cold water
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon extract
 
For the filling:
1 ⅓ cups dried, sweetened blueberries
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup red wine (a light, fruity wine works best; I used a 2011 Beaujolais-Villages)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon lemon extract
 

Technique:

  1. Make the streusel topping first. In a small bowl, toss together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and quick oats. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture begins to form clumps. Set aside.
  2. Now you can start on the cake. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Thoroughly grease a 9-x-2-inch round cake pan, making sure to go all the way up the sides.
  3. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the butter solids have separated out and turned dark, and the butter is lightly browned and fragrant.
  4. Pour the browned butter into a liquid measure cup. You should end up with ⅜ cup, since the butter loses volume during the browning process. If you do have any excess, reserve it for another use—such as frying French toast.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  6. Add the vinegar, water, vanilla, and lemon extract to the measuring cup with the browned butter and mix well.
  7. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. The batter should be very light and airy.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Scatter the prepared streusel topping evenly over the batter, breaking up any large lumps with your fingers. You don’t want clumps any larger than hazelnuts, as they will be too heavy for the batter and sink into the cake.
  9. Bake the cake until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
  10. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  11. Cover another rack with parchment paper.
  12. Run a knife carefully around the edge of the cake and invert it onto the parchment-covered rack.
  13. Place the first rack over the inverted cake and then use it to flip the cake back over, so that the streusel side is facing up again.
  14. Let the cake cool completely.
  15. While the cake cools, make the filling. Mix together the dried blueberries, water, red wine, sugar, and flour in a small saucepan, making sure that there are no clumps of flour left in the mixture, and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  16. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  17. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon extract. Let cool.
  18. Once both the cake and the filling are cool, use a serrated knife to slice the cake in half horizontally.
  19. Transfer the bottom half of the cake to a serving platter and spread the cooled filling over it, making sure to push it all the way to the edge of the cake.
  20. Place the top half of the cake over the filling and press down lightly to secure.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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