I don’t think of myself as particularly thrifty person except when it comes to food. Maybe it’s because I grew up with homemade noodles, pickles, and french fries (why buy it when you could make it seemed to be the food philosophy of my parents). I also spent a year on food stamps in grad school, which means I’ve always been a “waste not want not” type of cook. So when I made butter the other day (see here for my post on that) I decided to bake up the buttermilk in a coffee cake instead of simply drinking it. Couple that with some leftover cranberry relish and ricotta cheese that needed using up and I produced this yummy coffee cake.
I’m not big on baking or desserts so this was somewhat foreign territory for me. After browsing online I found a recipe here that I thought could stand up to a cheese and fruit filling (and not all sink to the bottom as one writer warned). It’s made with whole wheat flour which gives it a much denser consistency and when I make this again I’ll definitely swirl the whipped cheese filling into the dough since I think it can handle it.
My palate is more savory than sweet so the cranberries worked well with the sweetened ricotta cheese. Using ricotta cheese in desserts is a traditional Italian approach and I have loved it ever since I tried my first ricotta filled canoli. You could probably substitute a cream cheese filling, thinned with some milk if you wanted to forgo the ricotta.
Buttermilk Cranberry Cheese Coffee Cake
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour, or whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, or cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups whole-wheat flour, or whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
1/4 cup canola oil (or safflower oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/2 cups homemade cranberry sauce (your can substitute fresh berries)
10 oz ricotta cheese, hand whipped with 2 tablespoons sugar until fluffy
To prepare oatmeal crumb: Combine butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (or cinnamon) in a food processor. Process until the mixture is crumbly. Turn out into a bowl and add the remaining 1/2 cup oats and walnuts. Combine with fingertips or a fork until blended.
To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch-square pan with cooking spray. Sift 2 cups flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cardamom (or cinnamon), baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk eggs and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl until well blended, gradually whisk in buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in 2 additions, stirring each time to thoroughly blend the ingredients together.
Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Dab whipped ricotta cheese over top. Dab cranberry sauce over cheese. Sprinkle half the oatmeal crumb evenly on top. Spoon the remaining batter over the crumbs and gently spread in an even layer. Top with the remaining oatmeal crumb. Bake the coffee cake until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.