I’m back in Seattle in the fall, which is one of my favorite times of the year here. Since I arrived last week, at least four separate people have told me that I just missed one of the most spectacular summers in Seattle, but I don’t mind; the skies are dramatic, the leaves are turning, and the Puget Sound and lakes reflect the changeable light so beautifully. I am also house-sitting for a co-worker who has a GORGEOUS home, with incredible views, and a newly remodelled kitchen. Sometimes I love my life.
A friend visited me from Portland this weekend, and on Friday night she tipsily said, “Let’s bake something tomorrow.” (When my friends drink they fantasize about cooking.) Saturday was properly chilly. We went to the farmers market in the morning in search of inspiration and found it in just-picked greengages, damsons, and cranberries. And – in the most beautiful fresh ginger, which was green, rose-pink, and bone-white, and looked like living coral. I’ve never seen anything like it.
First we cooked the fruit with lemon zest and sugar, and I made a streusel out of butter, macadamia nuts, brown sugar, and fresh grated ginger. My poor friend had to leave before the cake was finished, so I made the batter, assembled the cake, and baked it in my co-worker’s spotless Thermador oven. (I know, right? I’m seriously lucky to be staying here.) My sister arrived about an hour later. I fed her some cake and then grilled her remorselessly: should I blog this cake? Would you want to bake it? Having eaten it, would you want the recipe? Bless her, she answered YES to all my questions, so here, for your pleasure, is my lovely Seattle fall coffee cake.
***All measurements in this recipe are in US cups. To convert these amounts into metric, here is a link to a useful table.
For the fruit layer
1 cup cut up pitted plums
1 cup cranberries
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup sugar
For the streusel
¼ pound macadamia nuts
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into chunks
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
½ cup flour
For the cake
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Butter the inside of a cake pan. (I used a 7” x 10” dish, but if I made this cake again I might use a ring mold for more even baking, as the fruit tends to fall slightly in the center as the sides of the cake cook and rise.)
To make the fruit filling: combine plums, cranberries, sugar, and lemon zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar is thoroughly melted and cranberries are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the streusel topping: using a food processor or, if you don’t have a food processor, the back of a rolling pin, crush the macadamia nuts to a fine meal. Gradually mix in sugars, salt, butter, and grated ginger, starting with one teaspoon of ginger, until thoroughly combined. Stir in flour. Taste and add additional ginger if desired. This streusel may be a little wet because of the oils from the nuts and the moisture from the ginger, but it will crisp up nicely in the oven.
To make the cake batter: combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, vanilla, and sugar until the mixture forms thick ribbons. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg for a good couple of minutes until the mixture is light and frothy. Add the buttermilk and lemon juice to this liquid and beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula until just mixed.
Makes about 10-12 servings.