hi, i'm melinda. nice to meet you, i've baked you something.
as my one week of summer vacation was singing its final verse, the next track was gearing up to play its tune. on the eve of a three week fellowship, my beat was skipping from reading, lounging, and frolicking to alarm clocks, learning and ingenuity. before i even gave myself a chance to slump, i tied my apron around my waist and danced into the kitchen.
knowing that i'd be spending the next few weeks with a new set of co-workers, and especially this first week where we would be in a planning phase without kids, i thought it would be a nice gesture to come bearing yumminess.
the beauty of a season free of wintery frost is the fresh berries it produces. they are so hard to resist in both the store and as the top story for every cooking magazine and recipe blog. as much as i have loved making strawberry goodies, it was time to try on something more. my main objectives with this baking endeavor were to bring smiles to the lips of my new co-workers and to make sure my treats were easy to eat around a table covered in laptops, robot parts and ideas.
because i just made cookies a few days earlier and cupcakes seemed a little too celebratory for a first-day-on-the-job snack, i wanted to make some berrylicious bars. in my recipe search, i almost immediately found this recipe on bakedbree.com for berry crumb cake. wait, a cake? didn't i just say i wanted it to be simple for everyone to pick up a piece and eat? well, when i looked through the pictures with the recipe, it looked more like bars than a cake so i went for it.
berry crumb cake
2 Tablespoons canola oil
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups mixed berries
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix together until the batter comes together. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Cover the batter with the 2 cups of berries.
Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon to a bowl. Add the butter and mix until it forms large crumbs.
Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the batter.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan at least once during baking. When the cake has cooled, dust confectioners’ sugar on top.
though the recipe allows for a mix of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, i decided to just use raspberries and blueberries. as i said above, i'd shown some outrageous favoritism to strawberries lately and wanted to let some other berries basque in the lime, er, berrylight.
one of the things that drew me to this particular recipe was the layering involved. there's something enticing about biting into different tastes and textures and by layering, this effect can easily be achieved. after making the bottom, cakey layer, i measured out one cup of blueberries and one cup of raspberries. almost right away, i noticed that two cups would only cover somewhat sporadically over the cake bottom and this just wouldn't do. so, i probably ended up adding about another 3/4 cups more berries.
still, i wasn't satisfied and thought the blueberries overpowered the amount of raspberries. so, i began gently tearing the raspberries in half to be able to scatter them across much more of the cake. now with the first two layers in place, it was time to add the crumbly topping.
when i read that cinnamon would be involved in this cake, it truly was the icing on the cake for me. cinnamon is one of those flavors that i would choose almost any day if given the option. with the topping all mixed up and then crumbled over the top of the berries, it was time to put the cake in the oven. just as the recipe suggested, i opened the oven door halfway through to turn the pan and was almost knocked over by the aroma of cinnamon and sugar. it was a sensory rush to my childhood mornings with cinnamon sugar toast and i wasn't sure if i could wait another ten minutes to dig in.
after the full 20 minutes of bake time, my testing toothpick was not coming out clean. i ended up adding probably another full 7 minutes to what the recipe intended and kept checking every 2 during that time so as to not overcook. i am going to admit that it probably needed another 2-3 minutes even because the middle of the cake was gooier than i realized after it cooled all the way. let me just tell you though, this is absolutely scrumptious! no complaints whatsoever in the delicious department.
even though they look somewhat like bars, they really are cake. when i opened up the tupperware to my new colleagues on that first day to reveal a pile of cakey looking squares with no forks or napkins in sight, they were all good sports in scooping out a portion and i think i can speak for each of them by saying they didn't regret it for a second.