Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Coffee and crumb cake anyone? Yes, please! You will go crazy over this super easy, super crumbly and super delicious cake! It could easily be a part of a brunch or a lovely after dinner treat. Incredibly moist and balanced with the sweet against the bright burst of tart blueberries, this crumb cake is just classic enough to make it a crowd-pleasing recipe, but also just deviant enough to feel fresh!
I enjoyed this cake the most directly from the fridge - nice and cold on my hot summer mornings this last week. Blueberries are just starting to come in season (usually Michigan blueberries start to grace our grocery shelves) so I couldn't wait to make a breakfast baked good around these indigo-hued fruits. If you have access to ~1 pint of these beauties, grab 'em and think of this cake; you won't regret it!
Sustainability Spotlight: "North America is the world's leading blueberry producer, accounting for nearly 90% of world production..." according to NESFP.org. Their gorgeous deep blue to purple-black coloring comes from the very high levels of antioxidants which have been shown through various studies to reduce the risk of diseases (from heart disease to certain types of cancers). Growing berries themselves are fairly sustainable as the climate, soils and weather patterns in North America are (ah, hem - were...see below) perfect for the growth of the fruit-producing shrubs that provide us with these juicy fruits. There's just one problem: Blueberries are prone to iron-deficiency, and if not corrected, the antioxidant levels of the berries plummet.
Soils that blueberries "like" are wet and moisture rich. The water molecules serve to naturally dissolve the iron "attached" to the soils and reattach to water. This allows for absorption of the necessary metal through the now "iron rich" water via the blueberry shrub root system. An example of this would be to think of how you can make almond or oat milk by using water to strip the oats and make a rich "dairy-like" product. Same concept here with water stripping soils of iron. With climate change, and water resource over-harvesting to support human population growth, soils that were perfect for blueberry production are showing signs of more arid-like (dry) characteristics. Without the water content to strip the iron from soils, blueberries are not getting "enough" of this mineral for their berry production optimization.
Corrective action for iron deficiency can (and often does) include chemical intervention via man-made chelates (a molecular "bond" of organic material with a metal (in this case, iron) injected into (or applied to) the soils for root uptake. However, a study conducted by Frontiers in Plant Science found that chemicals are not the most effective solution. There is a sustainable alternative which is cost effective and easy to maintain. "...Their study shows that growing grasses alongside blueberry plants corrects signs of iron deficiency, with associated improvements in berry quantity and quality. The effects are comparable to those seen following standard chemical treatment - providing a simpler, safer, cheaper, and more sustainable strategy for blueberry farming..." Using the grasses helps "release" iron trapped in soils because their process for water uptake also exudes a natural chelate that can aid in the iron uptake of the blueberry shrub.
This Sustainability Spotlight is all about how identifying alternatives to any man-made source of enhancing and maintaining our crops represents a very important and necessary step to our overall impacts on food sources for humans and our consumption accordingly. There are various impacts of human population growth and actions which are hindering the planet's natural processes to support flora (blueberries) and fauna (i.e. - animals, like humans! who feed on them). As always, this spotlight is showing how we can either accept our stewardship role and find natural ways to support the planet (i.e. - grasses in this case for blueberry plant support) or continue to "fight" the planet and use chemicals or man-made materials and degrade the Earth more over time. Providing you with all these examples of how we can do better, be better, and find better ways of living on this planet inspires me (and I hope, you!) to increase our knowledge and be a steward.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp apple pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan butter (melted)
Cake "Dry" Ingredients:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cake "Wet" Ingredients:
1/2 cup oat milk
1/2 cup avocado oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste
~1 pint (cup) fresh blueberries (coarsely chopped in food processor)
Melt vegan butter in a small (microwave safe) bowl (~30 seconds); swirl to ensure all pieces are melted. Add remainder of the Crumb Topping ingredients to your bowl and smash / mix with a fork till you have a sandy / crumbly texture. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8 glass pan with cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium bowl, add all Cake "Dry" Ingredients and stir with a whisk. Next, stir in your chopped blueberries (I chop the blueberries so a) I don't burn my mouth when one pops as I eat my cake and b) you get blueberries in every single bite!)
In a large mixing cup (or small bowl), add all Cake "Wet" Ingredients and stir with a whisk.
Add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredient bowl and stir with a spoon until just moist.
Pour your batter into the prepared 8 x 8 pan; next "crumble" with your hands / fingers your crumb topping over the cake. You will have a generous (thick) layer of crumb topping (this is correct & oh, so tasty!).
Slide your pan into the oven and bake for ~1 hour + 10 minutes or until no longer loose in the middle and a toothpick comes out clean (hopefully a reusable toothpick).
Let cool for ~20 minutes and either cut to serve immediately or let cool completely, cover and put in the fridge for the morning (like I did!)
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie