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Bumbleberry Coffee Cake

June 29, 2012

In my previous post, I shared the birthday lunch we had for my Mom. I left the dessert for this post because it deserved its own special place. The women in my family all love coffee cake. Come to think of it, so do the men. When it came  time to decide upon a dessert, it wasn’t hard. A coffee cake. A bumbleberry coffee cake.

Bumbleberry. A word evocative of freshness, lightness, whimsy. A bumbleberry breeze, sending that essence from one kitchen to another. Sounds like a name for a blog…

Years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Savannah, Georgia. A lovely old city filled with charm and history. The city  was designed around 18 town squares, each with a distinctive history, its own monument, its own garden, its own story to tell. I had an afternoon to myself and decided to walk the city. Armed with my map, I would walk from one town square to the next. Never mind that I had a bum knee. I had a plan to carry out. By the afternoon’s end, I limped through the last of the town squares, with a very large potato impersonating my knee and with a deep smile inside. Walking past the homes, each with its own  fanciful wrought-iron gate, through the neighborhoods, the tree-lined streets, the wide boulevards, from one square to the next… a beautiful day.

Where to eat? A friend recommended a favorite stop for him and his wife. Elizabeth on 37th, an older home-turned-restaurant just outside of town.. The owner/chef had co-authored a book with her daughter. Savannah Seasons by Elizabeth Terry. We ate there. I loved it. I bought the book. I devoured it – the great recipes, the charming stories, the delicious-looking photos. And in it a recipe for bumbleberry crisp that captured my imagination…

But wait. Novio and I just spent a half-hour combing through the book. Re-visiting so many recipes that make my mouth water. But no mention of bumbleberry anything. Never mind.

As memory serves, I read SOMEWHERE that the word bumbleberry is an old-fashioned term that likely originated in the South and means a mixture of berries.

A bumbleberry crisp. A bumbleberry cobbler. A bumbleberry coffee cake.  If not directly from Savannah Seasons, most definitely inspired by it. Just saying the word makes me smile.

Add orange zest for extra zing

Layer the berries in between the batter OR put all the batter in the pan at once, then then the fruit and then the crumb topping. Either way, there won’t be much left over.

Spread batter lightly over fruit to edges

cake is assembled

Bumbleberry Coffee Cake


6 T. butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. unbleached flour
1/4 c. stone-ground cornmeal
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt or kosher salt
2/3 c. light sour cream OR lowfat Greek yoghurt
1/2 t. orange zest
2 c. mixed berries
Crumb Topping:
2 T. butter, melted
2 T. safflower or canola oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/8 t.  nutmeg
1/2 c. nuts: chopped walnuts, chopped pecans or sliced almonds (toasted nuts are always a plus!)


Pre-heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8″ square baking dish.

Sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or with mixer. Beat in eggs.  Add vanilla.

Add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with sour cream in two batches.

Mix all crumb topping ingredients together, except for nuts, until it comes together. Add nuts at end.

Spoon half the batter into prepared pan. Top with fruit. Then spread remaining batter over the fruit. Top with crumb topping by using your fingers.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Serves 8-12

Options for fruit: use any berry combo (true bumbleberriness!) or one kind of berry, all peach or peach combined with one kind of berry, or (for non-summertime) 1  1/2 c. diced apples with 1/4 c. cranberries

Note: You can easily omit cornmeal and use all flour. But use the cornmeal. It adds a very  appealing texture.


From → Desserts, Fruit

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  1. A Blueberry Field Trip | bumbleberry breeze

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