BY JOANNE BRUNO
My coworkers and I have a tenacious relationship. Every week I bake something for them and every week they moan, grab their stomachs as if to say “what are you doing to me!?”, and then proceed to devour everything that’s set before them.
Typically, they don’t get a say in what I bring, but the week before Thanksgiving, I thought I’d take their waistlines into consideration and bake something on the healthier side. This coffee cake, sweetened only with maple sugar, made with spelt flour, and rife with antioxidants from the cranberries, manages to be just that without sacrificing flavor.
In fact, I think this cake disappeared faster than some of my more decadent treats. Go figure! It would certainly be a perfect addition to any holiday brunch or breakfast, or to keep on hand for those “just in case” moments when guests seem to appear without warning, as is wont to happen during the holiday season.
Makes 12-16 modest slices, adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
3 tbsp rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup maple syrup, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
zest of one lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
4 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup maple sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees, rack in the middle. Butter a 9×9-inch cake pan, and line with parchment paper (or just grease pan…up to you).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In a separate large bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer or by hand – until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the maple syrup and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times along the way. Beat in the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again. Add half of the flour, stir just a bit, now add a splash of the buttermilk, stir again, but not too much. Add the rest of the flour and stir a bit, and now the rest of the buttermilk. Stir until everything barely comes together and then very gently fold in one cup of the cranberries. Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan and set aside.
- To make the streusel topping, place the flour, butter, maple sugar, and pecans in a food processor and pulse 20-30 times or until the topping is a bit beyond sandy/crumbly. It should be moist-looking – on its way to being slightly doughy. Crumble 2/3 of it over the cake batter, sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup cranberries on top of that, and then add the last of the crumble. Barely pat in place with your fingertips.
- Place the coffee cake in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for five minutes and then remove it from the pan to cool on a rack (this way the cake won’t steam in the pan as it’s cooling).
Photos: Joanne Bruno
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