Low-Carb Gluten-Free Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Om nom!

Click to see these incredibly sexy blueberries up close.

As you may have noticed, I tend to lean toward cake and bread recipes. Looks like I’m going to fail to deviate from that trend yet again — I found this recipe over at About.com and had to give it a try. Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake? Oh hell yes. I mean, Oh Yum!

I used stevia rather than Splenda (artificial sweeteners, while they do fit the low-carb part of my eating plan, don’t fit into the Paleo end of things). SweetLeaf makes a decent liquid extract which doesn’t contain anything but stevia — other brands contain additives such as erythritol (a sugar alcohol, often used in chewing gum) or even dextrose (um…sugar). No thanks!

I used less sweetener than this recipe calls for; in spite of my love of cake, I don’t have a powerful sweet tooth anymore (thanks to giving up sugar — woo hoo!). For the cake layer, I used 1/4 tsp of liquid SteviaClear (I don’t like using name brands — mainly because no one is paying me — but there are different conversions for different brands of stevia). For the cream cheese layer, a couple of drops. For the topping, none at all — blueberries and cinnamon both have plenty o’ sweet for me.

I followed the suggestion to use half vanilla extract and half almond extract, and found the combination perfect. I also subbed half the flour with flax meal, which made for an aggressively dense cake that may not be everyone’s style. The cake layer could have been more cinnamony (I heart cinnamon); next time I will increase the cinnamon.

The topping needed a bit more flour, so after putting the topping mix over the cake, I sprinkled another small handful of plain almond flour over that. The butter already in the topping was plenty to melt into the extra flour and coverage was perfect.

For oil, I try to avoid refined oils such as Canola, so for this recipe I used extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is only lightly processed and is supposedly ten kinds of good for you. Because it’s solid at room temp, I microwaved it until was liquid (similar time as for melting butter). In addition to being healthy, it has a light, delicate flavor that is nice in baked goods, and is decidedly non-greasy for an oil.

I’ll definitely be making this again. Even DH, who has a “strong dislike” for stevia (the series of grossed-out faces he makes when confronted with the stuff is entertaining), thought the cake was superb. The layers are well balanced, and the topping was so good we started just eating that straight off the cake (the flax I added was tasty and textural, but the sheer density of flax becomes exhausting after a while).  🙂

Here’s the recipe mostly as written over at About, with some of my own additions, and some minor corrections:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar substitute (or equivalent liquid)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup butter (4 Tablespoons), chilled and cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extracts
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • Salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (but not thawed) blueberries or raspberries

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter or oil 9X9 inch pan.

Coffee cake is prepared in layers; three, in this case. If you are using a standing mixer, you can use the same bowl if you make the layers in the order listed – just remove them to separate bowls until ready to assemble.

1) Topping: Mix 1 cup of the almond meal, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup sweetener, a pinch of salt and the 4 Tablespoons cold butter. The whisk type attachment on a standing mixer works well – you don’t want it blended, you want the mixture to stay crumbly.

You can also do this easily in a food processor with the blade attachment, or by hand using two knives (the technique with knives is similar to cutting butter into flour for a pie crust; you don’t want the butter lumps broken up completely. The mixture should look crumbly and the butter bits like a jumble of chunky flour-covered nuggets.) If it all clumps together into a big lump, don’t worry – just crumble it over the top when it’s time.

2) Cream Cheese Layer: Mix cream cheese, 1 egg, and ¼ cup sweetener. If you don’t like cream cheese, you can skip this layer, or if you want a thinner layer with less cream cheese, you can use 4 oz. instead of 6 oz. This will also allow the cream cheese to spread more evenly over the layer.

3) Cake layer: Mix dry ingredients: 2 cups of almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and ¾ cup sweetener.

To the dry mix, add the sour cream, oil, extracts, liquid sweetener (if that’s what you’re using), 2 eggs, and mix well. At this point, you might want to add 1-2 Tablespoons of water, depending on the consistency; nut flours tend to be very thirsty. You want the batter to be thick enough to support the layers you will build on top of it, but you should be able to spread it easily in the pan. (I added about 2 tbsp of water.)

4) Assembly: Spread the cake layer in the pan, and pour/spread the cream cheese on top (if it’s the larger amount of cream cheese, you won’t be able to spread it evenly, but that’s OK). Then sprinkle the blueberries on the cream cheese and the streusel on the top of that.

5) Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick not inserted into a berry comes out clean. If you use a thermometer, it should be about 155° F. in the center.

6) Cool and slice and enjoy!

This is  a very filling cake — especially if you use part flax meal — so you can cut this to 16 servings. At that size:

Calories: 307
Fat: 28g
Protein: 9.5g
Carbs: 8.7g
Fiber: 4.2g
Net Carbs: 4.5g

With 1 1/2 cups flax meal:

Calories: 262
Fat: 23g
Protein: 9g
Carbs: 8g
Fiber: 4.7g
Net Carbs: 3.3g

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8 Responses to Low-Carb Gluten-Free Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

  1. Elizabeth says:

    So my questions are – where and how much can you subsitute oat bran in anything – for some flour. Not tasty in this recipe, but others.
    How do you feel about Agave Sweetener (trader joes)?
    What do you think of proper organic coconut oil in replacement for any oil called for and/or butter?
    Thank you!

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    As for oat bran, tasty! Although it’s too high in the carbohydrate count for me to use, if I were going to, I would start out subbing the oat bran for 1/4 to 1/2 of the almond flour. Because oat bran is so dense, I wouldn’t sub out the coconut flour, just the almond; the lighter texture of coconut flour might help balance the weight of the oat.

    I make those muffins with part flax and they are pretty dense but still very good, so I think oat bran would be something to fiddle with in there that could turn out some good results. Just keep an eye on moisture and add water to the batter as necessary.

    Agave I do not use because it’s a processed sweetener that’s higher in fructose than HFCS, and for health reasons I stay away from concentrated sweeteners. It’s not truly a healthy alternative to sugar anyway — it’s the same thing. Their marketing department would love us to believe them when they say it’s a safe, nutritious, better *kind* of sugar, but they’re full of it…sugar is sugar and impacts your liver and pancreas hard, whether it’s table sugar, HFCS, or agave. (/rant off… 🙂 )

    Coconut oil is divine! The taste is so light and the oil so airy. I use it in everything I cook that calls for canola oil, when I’m not using butter. As long as it’s extra virgin (cold pressed and all that!) it’s perfect.

    Good luck and happy cooking!

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    • Sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose — not much difference from HFCS. Honey, which is considered Paleo, is 38% fructose and 31% glucose, with some water and 13% maltose and other sugars making up the rest of the %.

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