It’s basically a large open structure in a parking lot with mats and blankets for walls, and it’s full of an ever-changing array of local produce. That may not seem like a big deal, but let’s just say that other farmer’s markets in Calgary feature vendors selling imported bananas, mangoes and oranges 365 days a year. Not that local produce isn’t available there as well, of course, but this new market feels like a fantastic secret as it’s family-run and never overly busy. We have a short growing season here, and I like to take full advantage of Alberta-grown fruits and vegetables while I can.
So I had never bought (or seen, actually) fresh Saskatoon berries before. Growing up, we sometimes bought Saskatoon berry pies, and I had seen jam at markets occasionally, but when I saw baskets of locally-grown berries at my new favourite market the other weekend I knew I had to buy them.
Saskatoon berries are very mild in flavour and remind me of a really mellow blueberry, or almost like a not-too-sweet grape. You can certainly eat them on their own, but they are the most glorious when baked into muffins, cakes, pies and crisps. In this coffee cake, they lend just the right amount of tart berry flavour to the delicately-flavoured cake and sugary, nutty crumble.
Feel free to substitute any other berry if Saskatoons aren’t available to you; blueberries would be nice. Enjoy this cake for breakfast, or as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter
- 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 and ¼ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 cup Saskatoon berries (or other small berries)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
- In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the butter with 3 tablespoons of flour, ¾ cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with the walnuts. Mix with your fingers until it's just starting to clump together. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, ½ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and remaining 5 tablespoons butter. Mix with a fork until all of the flour is coated with some of the butter. Mix the egg and milk into the mixture until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Batter will be thick.
- Pour half the batter into the prepared pan; sprinkle with ½ cup of the berries, then sprinkle half of the streusel/nut mixture on top. Add remaining batter, followed by remaining berries and remaining streusel/nuts.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Best the first day, but will keep covered at room temperature for a day or two.
Source: Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (Quick Coffee Cake recipe)