Every Christmas, my mom’s parents fly out to spend the holiday with us. On the morning of December 24, all six of us pile into the car and drive half an hour to our favorite brunch restaurant to celebrate my grandparents’ anniversary. Yes, they were married on Christmas Eve!
There are only a handful of these restaurants, all in Northern California, but they make the best blueberry coffee cake you’ll ever find. Tall squares of tender sour cream cake, packed full of juicy berries, and topped with a thick layer of cinnamon sugar streusel. It’s a meal all by itself!
However, up until high school, I was completely convinced that I didn’t like fruit in my cake. Bananas were fine in muffins—but not berries—and cakes were supposed to be plain and topped with frosting. Besides, the restaurant sold super cute funny face pancakes complete with chocolate chip smiles… Which I ordered from the kids’ menu well past their 10-year-old cut-off date.
But one Christmas when my grandparents came to visit, I decided to be brave and select something from the regular menu instead. I opted for a simple ham and cheese omelette, and when the waiter asked which coffee cake I wanted, blueberry or cranberry, I actually replied with the latter, much to everyone’s surprise. Nobody ever chose their seasonal flavor… We’re a family of purists!
When the piece came, I cautiously took a bite. Then another. And another. Before everyone else finished their entrées, I had wiped the plate clean! Those tangy berries combined with the sweet streusel (and melted butter… so much melted butter on top!) was the perfect combination. And now years later, I finally recreated it at home with this Cranberry Crumb Coffee Cake!
Unlike the original, I made mine a little healthier. It’s entirely clean eating friendly, meaning it contains nothing processed or overly refined. Whole wheat flour, maple syrup, and butter (no vegetable oil!).
To lighten up the cake without sacrificing the tender texture, I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Greek yogurt adds all of the moisture for a fraction of the fat and calories. It’s my secret weapon in healthier baking!
To maximize the tangy flavor, use fresh cranberries. They turn juicy and tender in the oven, and their color darkens to the most gorgeous shade of red. Dried just can’t compare! But if you want to make this coffee cake out of season, then be sure to hydrate the dried cranberries first. It only takes a few minutes, and it prevents them from soaking up all of the cake’s moisture.
And the streusel… Oh you guys, I am such a sucker for streusel! I always save the bits with the thickest amount of cinnamon sugar for last. Does anybody else do that? I added a thick layer to the top of this coffee cake because it just wouldn’t be the same without it!
Umm, yes. There are no words. Besides… “Cake. For. Breakfast.”
And that’s definitely something I can get behind!