It only took four years, but we finally made it back to the Okanagan to celebrate our friends’ wedding last month. We enjoyed another summer visit, despite the peak tourist season.
As it wont to be, I’d be inspired (and haunted by) a dish or baked good/pastry from our travels. I would get home and obsess about recreating it, of course. After weeks spent on this, I can truly say that the Blueberry Crumb Cake was my Penticton 2019 Food Fixation.
The Okanagan may be known for its wines and some of the best summer fruits, but I fell hard for cake this time.
How to fall in love with cake
We discovered the blueberry crumb cake at the Penticton Saturday Farmers Market when we had it as a quick snack before heading to the afternoon wedding. I realized I didn’t even check the name of the vendor or what this delicious morsel was called and we had no time to go back, unfortunately. At least I knew it was European. Our initial search led to a Czech version of the clafoutis, the bublanina. It looked comparable, although I don’t remember it being so eggy.
On the day we left, I walked over to the well-rated The Prague Cafe for coffee and snacks to take on the drive back to Vancouver. There, I saw it. I muffled a squeal as I walked in and my attention zoomed in to the pastries. I bought an embarrassing number of slices. I’m sharing them with four other people, alright?
I asked them if it was bublanina and they said No, it’s “fruit cake”. And that was it. That led to some deadend searches and I was stuck, yet relentless. Surely, someone out there would know!
The kindness of strangers on the internet…
I posted photos of the cake on social media, hoping someone could give me a hint at the very least. Not long after that, a Facebook reader replied with a link to a recipe in Czech. [Thanks for the translation, Google!] After comparing it with similar recipes, I was confident that it was the best starting point.
I dove right into it even without information on the pan size or the amount of blueberries from the original recipe. The first batch was promising, with more fruit than I thought it would hold. The cake also came out too thick for the pan, and therefore required a bigger one. Next, I baked it in a half sheet pan and that did the trick! Sunshine, rainbows and unicorn tears.
It’s incredibly good and everyone who has tasted it had the same first reaction as I did: “Best cake ever and can I have more and/or the recipe?!” I’ve made this recipe several times now and have tweaked it for use in different pan sizes.
The internet is a wonderful thing and strangers can be so generous if you let them be. Not only did I find the recipe for a cake that has made quite the impression on me, I have also been introduced to the world of Czech cakes and pastries. I’m absolutely intrigued—I want to bake more and travel there. 😊 If you have Czech recipes and cookbooks to share, please let me know in the comments!
Blueberry Crumb Cake (A Czech Recipe)
- Half sheet baking pan (18"x13" pan with 1" lip)
- Food processor (optional; use if you want to save time)
- 2 cups all purpose flour unbleached
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 packet Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar If you can't find this, it is equivalent to 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 250 grams unsalted butter cut into cubes for easier crumbling
- 1 cup milk whole, 2% or 1% (depends on your preference)
- 2 large eggs
- 14 grams baking powder (or one packet of Dr. Oetker's baking powder
- 750 grams fresh blueberries rinsed and drained
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a half pan baking sheet (18"x13" with 1" lip) with parchment paper, making sure it extends up to the sides and creased at the corners. Rubbing the bottom of the sheet with a little bit of butter will help keep the parchment paper in place when pouring the batter.
- Combine flour, granulated sugar, unsalted butter and vanilla sugar in a food processor or in a medium bowl. Pulse/Process or crumble with your fingers until the entire mixture is the texture of coarse sand. It helps to add the butter in 3 batches.
- Separate and save one cup of the crumb to use as a topping.
- Mix baking powder to the remaining crumb mixture. Beat eggs and milk together in a small bowl then add to the mixture. Stir or pulse in the food processor until well combined; a few small lumps are to be expected.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and level. Carefully place and distribute the blueberries on the batter, then sprinkle the cup of crumb mixture evenly on top.
- Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. It is done when the edges start to turn golden brown.
- Let it cool in the pan. Can be served warm or at room temperature.**