Old-Fashioned Blueberry Coffee Cake

Blueberry Coffee Cake - Old Fashioned

We live a very casual lifestyle here in Southern California … we wear shorts (of whatever length) and sandals or flip-flops most of the time, too. Even when we go out in the evening, it is rare that we “dress up”! We’ll go to the movies, or a concert or play, with friends and afterwards, stop in somewhere for a drink or coffee and dessert.

(BTW, an easy way to remember the difference between Desert and Dessert is the extra “S” in dessert, like the extra helping you would like!)

When I was a child, you’d bring your friends home and make a pot of coffee and bring out some coffee cake – a not overly sweet pastry that wasn’t like a dessert cake, but was just enough. In that same era, when people lived in the neighborhood (or often, in the same house) for generations, instead of going “out” for the evening to a movie, or some other entertainment, they’d visit friends. Often the men would play poker or gin rummy, or the couples would play bridge; the women played Mahjong or Canasta, or some other card game or brought out their knitting, or, just schmoozed.

Before the evening ended, out came the coffee and coffee cake; sometimes cookies or pie, but the coffee and coffee cake pairing was always my favorite and what I remember my Mother usually served. (The cookies were for me and my Dad!) And, since many women did not work outside the home, they often stopped in at a neighbor’s during the day to chat, have coffee and a piece of coffee cake as that chatted about kids, husbands, and local gossip!

This recipe is a modernized version of an old recipe I’ve had for years…it uses less sugar than many and instead of the usual streusel topping, uses (unflavored) panko crumbs to help give it a little extra crunch. It’s great for breakfast, too – or whenever you want a snack.

Old-Fashioned Blueberry Coffee Cake

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c plus 2 Tbsp. (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 c pecans, toasted, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 c plus 3 Tbsp.  sugar, divided
  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 c fresh (or frozen) blueberries (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 Tbsp. Panko crumbs (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Crumb Topping:

Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in nuts. Add butter; using your fingertips, work butter into dry ingredients until large, moist crumbs begin to form. Set topping aside.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.


Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 13” x 9”at pan with nonstick spray or line bottom with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 3/4 cup sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between
additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until
mixture is pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes longer.

With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients to bowl in 3
additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning
and ending with dry ingredients. Pour half of batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Whisk remaining 3 Tbsp. sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly over batter in pan. Spoon remaining batter over; smooth top.

Toss blueberries with panko crumbs in a small bowl; scatter evenly over batter. Sprinkle crumb topping over blueberries.

Bake cake until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes. Let cool completely in pan.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room

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