Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Snacks

Dick’s Brilliant Blueberry Bundt Coffee Cake

My mother-in-law Dick was our very own “America’s Test Kitchen” well before Christopher Kimball. She was always experimenting, and couldn’t contain her enthusiasm over a new find.

She called one day bubbling over with excitement. She told me about this light, fluffy blueberry coffee cake. She would mail me the recipe, and she just knew I’d like it.

I’d heard she’d been looking for a blueberry coffee cake. Perhaps it was because her signature coffee cake (see Dick’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake) was chock full of nuts, which many people avoid. Or maybe it was just blueberry season.

I’d had a favorite blueberry cake, but this replaced it in no time. All too often, blueberry cakes can get a little gummy and dense from the blueberry juice. Surprisingly, this cake has a light, airy crumb. I suspect the secret is sprinkling in the berries as a filling rather than folding them throughout the batter.

A filling. Hmmm. Sort of like the cinnamon/nut/raisin filling in her signature coffee cake. In fact, exactly like that cake. I just compared the batters, and they are virtually identical. Only the fillings differ. After all these years, how had I missed that? How brilliant! I wonder if that’s why Dick knew I’d like it.

Her cinnamon coffee cake, as perfect as it is, works as a bundt only when you serve it fluted-side-down to keep the topping on top. But this one makes a lovely bundt, and dresses up well with just a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

Now, about bundt pans…do I hear you grumbling about bundt pans? I’m with you. Half the time—and I can never predict which half—my cake will get stuck and break apart into clumps. Sometimes I can repair it with some glaze and the help of my husband’s 3-D puzzle solving skills. Even a fragile cake can survive removal from a normal pan, especially one lined with wax or parchment paper. Not so with all those ornamental corners and curves. I guess with beauty comes temperament.

I’ve gone through several bundt pans over the years, and my last nonstick heavyweight failed me after only one cake. So I just switched to the one that Cook’s Illustrated rates best: Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan. I greased and floured the heck out of it and the cake slid out like a dream. I hope I’ve finally found a pan brilliant enough for Dick’s brilliant blueberry bundt coffee cake.

Note: Thank you, Leah Greenwald, for introducing me to Baker’s Joy. It really works. Otherwise, I found the best way to grease and flour the pan is to use Julia Child’s method. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter with 1 tablespoon flour. Brush it onto the inside of the pan, making sure to get every nook and cranny. This is necessary even with a nonstick pan.

Dick’s Blueberry Bundt Coffee Cake

  • ½ cup margarine or butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces sour cream (or whole milk yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I double to 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Powdered sugar for top
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
  2. Cream butter or margarine, add 1 cup sugar and beat well. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat. Combine dry ingredients and add until blended. Still in sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla. Pour ½ of the batter into the prepared bundt pan, sprinkle with blueberries and filling, then top with remaining batter.
  3. Bake 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes or longer, pray that it doesn’t stick to the pan, remove cake and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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  • Leah

    Do you ever use Baker’s Joy instead of flouring/buttering the pan? Generally works well for me. And what’s the origin of your mother-in-law’s name?

  • Diane Brody

    No, I’ve never tried it, but if you say it works I’m getting some. Should I buy it online or can I find it around here? Thanks for the tip! And thanks for asking about my mother-in-law. Her name was Dorothy, and she started out with the usual nickname, Dot. But her baby brother called her Dick (I’m not sure why that would be easier to say), and I guess everyone thought that was so cute the name stuck. She was a sweet, funny, down-to-earth, one-of-a-kind woman, and somehow this unusual nickname seemed to fit.