Calling something a coffee cake is, more often than not, just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. I don’t need an excuse to eat cake for breakfast, but I am a huge fan of coffee cake nevertheless. This coffee cake does have a little bit of redeeming nutritional value so, just in case you ever feel guilty reaching for that second slice with your morning coffee, you can bake this up and not think twice about it. The coffee cake is made with whole grain flour and is packed with antioxidant-rich cherries. Of course, it is also buttery, tender and topped off with a crispy cinnamon streusel, too.
This coffee cake is very easy to make because the streusel and the batter start off with the same base. You simply set some of the mixture of flour, butter and sugar aside after mixing them together for the streusel and add it back before baking. The cake is very soft, tender and moist. It does have a subtle whole wheat flavor to it, but it doesn’t have any of the heaviness that you might associate with whole wheat baked goods. Since the butter is blended in with the flour, it really gives the cake a lovely light, even texture. White whole wheat flour is the best choice for this recipe because it has a slightly milder flavor than regular whole wheat and makes for a slightly sweeter streusel. If you don’t have it, I would opt for a 50/50 mix of whole wheat flour and all purpose.
You can use fresh cherries, jarred cherries or frozen cherries for this recipe. With frozen cherries, you can either defrost and drain then before adding, or simply add a minute or two to the baking time to account for the face that they will make the batter a littler colder than fresh cherries will. I like sweet black cherries and Morello cherries, but even very tart cherries are a good option for this recipe if you like things a little less sweet. As it is, this is not a particularly sweet coffee cake – just sweet enough to keep you wanting more.
Whole Wheat Cherry Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups white whole wheat flour, divided
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cherries (fresh, jarred or frozen)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square cake pan.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light. Beat in 1 cup of the flour, just until mixture resembles very coarse sand. Remove 1 cup of mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
Beat baking powder and salt into the remaining flour mixture (in the large bowl). Add in milk, egg and vanilla and stir well, then mix in remaining flour until mixture is well-combined. Stir in cherries. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Add ground cinnamon to the flour mixture in the small bowl. Grab small handfuls of the cinnamon mixture and squeeze, allowing the mixture to clump slightly. Sprinkle the clumps over the cake batter in an even layer.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.