I’m a sucker for beautifully produced cookbooks. The ones that entice you with amazing photography and thoughtful layout. Oh, and don’t forget the matt paper, not an ounce of gloss to be found. This is the book I will take off the shelf every time. The touch and sight senses on overload. The colours are muted and the feel of the paper is exquisite. But often these are the books that deliver least on content. You flick through them with pure adoration for what’s in your hands, but then you look closely and you realise you wouldn’t actually cook anything from them. Having been burned at the counter on a number of occasions, I’ve made a new rule: get the book out of the library first and only buy it if the content really delivers (unless it’s written by Jamie Oliver, which I tend to buy regardless).
A case in point is the book this blueberry crumble cake is adapted from: Commonsense Baking (Murdoch Books). It’s not pretty. In fact it illustrates the saying; ‘never judge a book by its cover’, because if you did, you would walk right on by. But it has some great things in it and when I’m looking for something new to bake, it’s the book I constantly reach for.
Blueberry crumble cake is great eaten warm (pop a slice in the microwave for 10 seconds if need be), and if you add whipped cream; it’s even better. And the addition of a topping over the cake batter, gives it something extra. It uses olive oil rather than butter, so you can pretend it’s good for you, if you ignore the sugar content. I use frozen blueberries because they are so much cheaper and it just doesn’t seem right to cook fresh berries. The only thing is, it seems to take forever to cook; usually around an hour. Be patient. It’s worth it!
- 235 g plain (all-purpose) flour
- 180 g caster sugar
- 2 + ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 150 g blueberries
- 1 egg
- 185 ml milk
- 80 ml light olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- 60 g pecans or walnuts, chopped
- 50 g soft brown sugar
- 30 g plain (all-purpose) flour
- 150 g blueberries
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Grease or line a 20cm spring-form baking tin with baking paper.
- Using a balloon whisk, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss the blueberries through the flour mixture.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Pour into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared tin.
- Make the topping: Combine the nuts, brown sugar, flour and blueberries in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the cake. Now gently drizzle the olive oil over.
- Bake for 55 - 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
- Serve warm.