About This Blueberry Breakfast Cake
This blueberry breakfast cake with buttermilk is a modern twist on a traditional coffee cake recipe. It’s a light, fluffy breakfast cake, studded with a generous amount of fresh blueberries (substitute frozen blueberries), and topped with a crunchy quick-to-make streusel. This breakfast cake can be baked in a 10-inch cast iron skillet (pictured), a 10-inch round or 9-inch square cake pan.
The recipe is adapted from Gaby Dalkin (of @whatsgabycookin fame!) and her cookbook, Eat What You Want. And be sure to check out my recipe archive for even more baked goods with blueberries, like these small batch blueberry muffins or these cornflake streusel muffins with blueberries!
What Is Breakfast Cake?
Hold the phone—what is breakfast cake, anyway? I’m not going to lie: it always weirded me out that muffins are considered “breakfast” foods. Unfrosted cupcakes for breakfast? Yeah, sure, okay. But I guess you could argue that muffins actually have all the morning essentials—eggs, dairy, fruit, and maybe whole grains. So if muffins are considered breakfast foods, why not cake, too?!
Think of this blueberry breakfast cake as a giant version of your favorite blueberry muffin, but scaled up to feed a crowd. Or maybe a more appropriate description would be that the recipe is a blueberry buttermilk coffee cake.
In any case, it’s the perfect showstopping centerpiece dish for a weekend brunch. The best part? Any leftover slices keep well for a breakfast treat to eat the rest of the week.
Why You Should Make The Recipe
In addition to being extremely delicious, there are other reasons to make this blueberry breakfast cake:
The recipe is from Gaby Dalkin of @whatsgabycookin‘s cookbook, Eat What You Want.
Gaby is known for her super approachable and delicious California-inspired recipes. Most of her recipes take advantage of fresh seasonal ingredients and come together really easily (like this peach and tomato caprese salad, or these strawberry jalapeño margaritas). This blueberry breakfast cake recipe is no exception. Although its flavors are “simple” and “classic”, the resulting cake really is so delicious and impressive!
The recipe is easily customizable with ingredients that can easily be substituted.
Gaby’s original recipe in Eat What You Want flavors the breakfast cake with blueberries AND lemons. Since I didn’t have any lemons on hand, I skipped the lemons and just used blueberries. Guess what? Her recipe still worked and produced an incredibly tasty cake! So if you’re in a pinch and still avoiding unnecessary extra trips to the grocery store, rest assured that this recipe is very forgiving and can be customized easily. No buttermilk? No problem—check out the Ingredients section below on how to use other types of milk instead. You can also use other types of fruit—like blackberries and raspberries—to make this recipe your own.
The cake stores well.
The streusel topping keeps the blueberry breakfast cake super fresh and moist for days after baking. Although I first made this cake on a Sunday morning, I was still enjoying slices of it two to three days later without noticing any changes in quality or flavor.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Now that I’ve convinced you to make this blueberry breakfast cake recipe, here’s your shopping list for the recipe:
Shopping List for Blueberry Breakfast Cake Recipe
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- dark OR light brown sugar
- kosher salt
- unsalted butter
- ground cinnamon
- baking powder
- pure vanilla extract
- large eggs
- fresh OR frozen blueberries
And let’s talk about some of its key ingredients:
This blueberry breakfast cake uses ½ cup buttermilk to make the cake.
I don’t have buttermilk. What can I use instead?
If you don’t have buttermilk, check out my blog post on how to make buttermilk substitutes with ingredients you likely already have in your fridge and/or pantry!
What about regular milk? Can I use regular whole milk in this blueberry breakfast cake recipe instead?
Yes! Gaby’s original recipe in her cookbook gives you the option to use either buttermilk or whole milk in this blueberry breakfast cake recipe. I just opted for buttermilk because I love the subtle, tangy flavor it adds to baked goods. But if whole milk is what you have on hand, go for it!
Can I use skim, low-fat or non-fat milk instead of whole milk in this blueberry breakfast cake recipe?
Yes, but with reservations. Skim, low-fat, and non-fat milks will lead to less flavorful baked goods.
Can I use non-dairy milk like almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk instead of whole milk in this blueberry breakfast cake recipe?
Yes! You can use alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and/or oat milk in this recipe without altering the results. However, be mindful that using an alternative milk with “strong” flavors (like coconut or oat milk) will impart their flavors into the cake, too. Specifically, your blueberry breakfast cake might have a subtle coconut or oat milk flavor to them, too.
This blueberry breakfast cake uses 2 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries to make the cake.
Can I replace the blueberries with another kind of fruit?
Yes! The recipe works best if you replace the blueberries with another berry. Think: blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries. You can also get away with chopping up strawberries into chunks that are roughly the same size as a blueberry and using them in this recipe. In a pinch, chopped up stone and stem fruit works, too. However, avoid bananas. Bananas make the cake too mushy! If you’re craving a banana cake or banana bread, I recommend these banana recipes instead.
How to Make Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Here’s how to make this blueberry breakfast cake from scratch:
First, make the streusel:
- First, prep your ingredients for the streusel. (Prep Time: <5 minutes)
The streusel doesn’t require too much prep—simply measure out the ingredients needed for the streusel, and then melt the butter.
- Then, make the streusel. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
Mix the melted butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture forms. Be careful not to overmix! You want there to be some large pieces still intact. These large pieces bake into extra crunchy crumbles in the streusel. Be sure to refrigerate the streusel while you make the cake batter.
Next, make the blueberry breakfast cake:
- First, prep your ingredients for the cake. (Prep Time: 5 minutes)
Similar to the ingredients for the streusel, the cake’s ingredients do not require too much prep. However, be sure to bring any refrigerated ingredients like the buttermilk, butter, and eggs to room temperature before using.
- Then, make the cake batter and top it with the streusel. (Work Time: 10 minutes)
Make the cake batter by beating together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Next, alternate adding the dry and remaining wet ingredients. That’s it! After scraping the cake batter into its baking pan, top it with the streusel.
- Finally, bake the cake. (Bake Time: 1 hour)
Bake the blueberry breakfast cake for around 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached. If you used room temperature fruit, it’s likely that you can shave off 5 to 10 minutes from this Bake Time.
Finally, make the drizzle:
- Make the drizzle. (Work Time: <5 minutes)
Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, then add the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until thick and creamy. Spoon over the cake before serving.
Reference Photos Of Tricky Steps In The Recipe
Most traditional streusel recipes instruct the bakers to use cold butter and rub or cut it into dry ingredients. This recipe, however, takes a unique approach. Instead, I instruct you to pour melted butter into dry ingredients and gently mix until it forms crumbs.
Here’s what the process looks like:
It’s important not to overmix the dry and wet ingredients. Mix only until large clusters and crumbs form (as pictured above).
The recipe then instructs you to chill these crumbs while you make the cake batter. You then sprinkle the crumbs over the cake batter. As you do so, you can continue to break the crumbs apart with your fingers to form smaller streusel crumbs:
Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ
FAQ: Baking Equipment You Need To Make The Recipe
I don’t have a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. What can I use instead to make this blueberry breakfast cake?
No cast-iron skillet? No problem! You can also use the following cake pans in its place:
- a 9- or 10-inch round springform cake pan (make sure that the springform pan has at least 2- or 3-inch tall sides!)
- a 9 x 9-inch square cake pan
- a 9- or 10-inch round cake pan with at least 3-inch tall sides
Note that using a smaller, 9-inch round pan means that you may need to bake the cake for 5 to 10 minutes longer. It’s important to use a cake pan with tall sides since this recipe makes a tall cake! I don’t want the batter to overflow out of the pan and onto your oven floor as it bakes.
FAQ: How To Customize The Recipe
You mentioned that Gaby’s original recipe used lemon in the cake. How do I use lemon in this blueberry breakfast cake?
Yes! To make Gaby’s original recipe, omit the cinnamon from the blueberry cake recipe. Instead, prep 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon zest and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice. Add both the lemon juice and lemon zest to the batter with the blueberries.
Gaby’s original recipe also instructs you to make a lemon glaze. Instead of using my milk glaze recipe below, sift 1 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice to make the glaze. Use in the recipe as instructed.
Can I bake the cake without the streusel topping?
Yes, but you need to reduce the Bake Time. I’m not sure what the exact Bake Time would be because I haven’t tried it myself. However, I would start checking the cake for doneness at around 35 minutes.
FAQ: How to Store The Cake
How to Store Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Place any leftover cake under a cake dome or a large bowl turned upside down for up to 3 days. Alternatively, if you want to eat this cake on-the-go like you would a muffin, slice the cake into individual slices. Tightly wrap each slice in plastic wrap and store on the counter at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Can you make the blueberry breakfast cake batter and save it for baking later?
Technically yes, but I don’t recommend it. Instead of scraping the blueberry breakfast cake batter into its baking pan, simply cover the top of the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 36 hours. When ready to bake, pour into the prepared baking pan and top with the streusel. There’s no need to wait for the batter to come to room temperature. However, you may need to increase Bake Time slightly to compensate for the chilled batter.
Why don’t I recommend it? The longer the batter sits, the more likely it is that the blueberries will leak their juice into the cake batter and dye it an unappetizing purplish-blue color. This problem gets worse with frozen blueberries, too. While it will probably still be tasty, I’m not gonna lie—the color can be pretty off putting. Imagine slicing this pretty cake and being greeted with a grayish, blue-ish purple cake crumb inside. You can do better than that!
Can you freeze blueberry breakfast cake?
Technically yes, but I don’t recommend it. Tightly wrap any leftover slices of cake in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, transfer to the refrigerator overnight to thaw, then rewarm either in the microwave or the oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Why don’t I recommend it? The streusel never regains its perfect, crunchy texture after being frozen and rewarmed. This is especially true when you rewarm the cake slice in the microwave. While it’s somewhat better rewarmed in the oven, the rest of the cake dries out too much if you rebake the cake long enough to get the streusel crunchy again. I feel like you end up having to choose between a moist cake crumb or crunchy streusel.
Best Recipe Tips
- The streusel can be made up to 1 week ahead of making the cake itself. After making the streusel, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use in the cake.
- Super ripe and frozen blueberries have a tendency to dye and stain the cake batter when mixed in. Don’t panic, this is totally normal! Although the cake batter will look a little lavender, if baked immediately, the crumb will still bake up to an appetizing yellow cake crumb color.
Best Baking Tips
- My recipe below gives you the option to use either fresh or frozen blueberries. If you used fresh blueberries, I encourage you to check for doneness earlier! I would check for doneness 10 minutes earlier, at 50 minutes instead of 1 hour.
- Peek through your oven door at around 40 minutes into the Bake Time. If the streusel looks like it’s browning too quickly (especially at its edges), top the cake with a loose cover of aluminum foil.
More Blueberry Recipes
- Blueberry Brownies
- Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
- Copycat Levain Bakery Blueberry Muffins (and its small batch version!)
- Passionfruit and Blueberry Cream Tart
- Small Batch Blueberry Scone Recipe
More Breakfast Recipes
- Banana Cinnamon Muffins
- Chaffle Recipe
- Mini Pancake Cereal Recipe
- Overnight Pumpkin French Toast
- Vanilla Custard Bread Ahead Donuts
Blueberry Breakfast Cake Recipe
For the Streusel
- 1 cup (4.5 ounces or 128 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (3.5 ounces or 99 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup tightly packed (1.85 ounces or 52 grams) dark OR light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
For the Blueberry Breakfast Cake
- 2 cups (9 ounces or 255 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cups (9.35 ounces or 265 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 ½ cups (12.85 ounces or 365 grams) fresh or frozen blueberries
For the Drizzle
- ½ cup (2 ounces or 57 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 to 3 teaspoons whole milk
For the Blueberry Breakfast Cake
- First, make the streusel. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and use a rubber spatula to stir until a crumbly mixture forms with some large pieces still intact. Do not overmix. Place the bowl in the refrigerator, uncovered, while you make the cake batter.
- Next, prep the oven and pan. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with cooking spray.
- Prep the ingredients for the blueberry cake. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In a small liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and the vanilla.
- Beat the butter and sugar for the cake, then add the eggs, dry ingredients, and blueberries. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, adding the next egg only after the previous one has been fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.With the mixer still on low, add the the dry ingredients in two parts, alternating with the wet ingredients in two parts. Beat until just combined, then scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, then beat on low for an additional 30 seconds. Add the blueberries, mixing until incorporated evenly throughout the batter, another 30 seconds.
- Assemble the cake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with the streusel, completely covering the batter.
- Bake the cake. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before glazing.
- Finally, make the glaze. Place the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Add the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until thick but still runny—it should have the consistency of paste. You may not need to use all the milk. Spoon and drizzle the glaze over the cake before serving.
- Serve and store. Serve at room temperature, or slightly warmed in the microwave. The assembled blueberry breakfast cake can be stored at room temperature, under a cake dome or a large bowl turned upside down, for up to 1 day. Press a sheet of plastic wrap against any cut surfaces to prevent the cake from drying out. After that, cover the entire cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Alternatively, if you want to eat this cake on-the-go like you would a muffin, slice the cake into individual slices. Tightly wrap each slice in plastic wrap and store on the counter at room temperature for up to 3 days.
This post was last updated on 8/15/2020.
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Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.
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