not so coffee cake

Coffee cake walks a fine line between breakfast and dessert. This is not your typical coffee cake, with fluffy vanilla-flecked cake, the topping crispy and sweet, and the center full of fresh, tart cranberry. I served this for breakfast, but would just as quickly scooped a bit of vanilla ice cream on top and enjoyed a late night movie. This recipe can be easily altered to include blueberry or cherry or a dash of cinnamon. Anyway you want it, enjoy it—morning, noon, or night.

cranberry vanilla bean coffee cake

½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 ounces)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
powdered sugar to top (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment. *I used a 9×13 pan, which made thinner coffee cake to make it go further. The batter was just enough to cover the larger pan twice (for the 2 layers), just as fare warning.
  • Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife. Add sugar and pulse to combine (this ensures the beans are evenly distributed versus whisking or stirring them in). Transfer to a bowl.
  • Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not purée). Keep in processor until needed.
  • In another bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.
  • Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Spoon small bits of the remaining batter over the top of the cranberries and smooth them with as gentle of a hand as possible.
  • Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble over top of cake.
  • Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes (30 minutes for the 9×13 pan I used). Allow to cool in pan completely before cutting and serving.

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