High Altitude Baking: Fabulous lightened version of my best blueberry coffee cake, made fluffy with egg whites.

blueberry coffeecake, lightened coffeecake, kid-friendly

I had a ton of blueberries this week, and ate them every morning with some cantaloupe sprinkled with lime juice and mint. Sometimes with a mound of yogurt, sometime not. Very healthy. Very virtuous. Very delicious.

But then I started thinking about blueberry coffee cake.  By Wednesday, fluffy, streusel-crusted coffee cakes filled with blueberries were all I could think about. But when I started looking at some recipes, I couldn’t get past all the butter and sugar in them.  I wasn’t looking to have dessert for breakfast. OK, sometimes I am, but not this time.

And I wasn’t looking to create something edgy with some hip ingredient only found in special stores in Mongolia. I wanted something my great-grandmother Mamma might have made.

blueberry coffeecake, lightened coffeecake, kid-friendly

So I cut the amount of butter I found in many recipes in half. I added back in 1 tablespoon of (not too edgy) coconut oil so it wouldn’t be too dry. Then I cut the sugar in half for the cake part, but made a traditional streusel with oats. Next I tackled the texture. I like an airy coffee cake, so I separated the eggs, and whipped the whites to a moderately firm peak, and folded them in at the end. The result was the best coffee cake I’ve ever made.

blueberry coffeecake, lightened coffeecake, kid-friendly

I know it’s not as healthy as the cantaloupe and berries breakfast, I won’t lie, but it’s a much healthier version for when you want to splurge.

A Few Cooking Notes:

This was developed for baking at high altitudes (7000 feet above sea level). If making at sea level, make the following changes:

  • Use 1 egg yolk instead of 2 (but use 2 egg whites)
  • Use the full 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Use 1 full teaspoon EACH of the baking soda and baking powder
  • Omit the yogurt
  • Bake at 350˚F instead of convection bake.
My Best Blueberry Coffee Cake

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: Makes one 9" coffee cake

Streusel Topping
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon (or split with ground cardamom)
Coffee Cake
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs (separated)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups minus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup apricots (or more blueberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F, convection. Butter a 9-inch square pan or a 9-inch springform cake pan.
Streusel Topping
  1. In a small bowl, mix Streusel Topping ingredients together with a fork or pastry cutter until combined.
Coffee Cake
  1. Beat the butter, oil, and sugar in the mixing bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk and yogurt.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter and egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, stirring just until combined. I use the lowest speed of the mixer. The batter will be thick.
  4. Add the blueberries and apricots and fold them into the batter using a rubber spatula.
  5. Whip the egg whites to a moderate peak using a hand mixer (the peaks should droop a little when you scoop the whipped egg whites with the beater and turn the beaters upside down). Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter in thirds using a rubber spatula. Little pieces of egg white should be visible in the batter. You don't want to fold them in too much.
  6. Pour the batter into the buttered baking pan. Sprinkle with the Streusel Topping.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving. This coffee cake is great warm or room temperature.
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45 Responses to “My Best Blueberry Coffee Cake” Subscribe

  1. Rita August 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Yumm. You’re getting to be quite the food scientist, Susan. High-altitude baking is real food science :o)
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  2. lizthechef August 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    You have outdone yourself here – love the “light” version – pinned your photo as well.
    lizthechef recently posted..Fresh Raspberry MargaritasMy Profile

  3. apuginthekitchen August 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    Love it Susan, sounds light and delicious and looks it too, your photo’s are amazing. When baking at sea level why only one egg yolk and omit the yogurt? Just wondering, have never done high altitude baking and don’t really understand the science of it. My hat’s off to you for this fantastic recipe,
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Kreative Bloggers AwardMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian August 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

      Thanks Suzanne! It’s because it’s so much drier up here at 7000 feet. If you make a cake exactly the same way here as you would at sea level, it’ll be like a hockey puck. I speak from experience. So, for every cup of flour I generally take 1 tablespoon out. And I increase the egg amount (sometimes I get extra large eggs and that’s enough to make the difference), and I almost always add a little yogurt to the mix for moisture. It depends on other factors, like other sources of moisture in the recipe, but that’s my rule of thumb.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Mountain Baking: My Best Blueberry Coffee Cake (Lightened)My Profile

  4. Terra August 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    You totally have my attention…..especially since I have a HUGE bag of fresh picked blueberries! Love how thick that cake is, and the crumble top looks fabulous! Hugs, Terra

  5. Norma Chang August 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    I too was wondering why you omit the yogurt. Liked the fact that you reduce the sugar.
    Norma Chang recently posted..Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable GardensMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian August 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      Thanks Norma! I only added the yogurt for moisture. At 7000 feet above sea level, it’s pretty dry here, and all baked items need more moisture content for the baked texture to be what you would experience at sea level. If you wanted the yogurt in it, just reduce the buttermilk, because at sea level the cake might be a little too moist. But I add a little yogurt to almost anything I bake up here just for the added moisture. I’ve had more than my share of hockey puck cakes, I can tell you :-)
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Mountain Baking: My Best Blueberry Coffee Cake (Lightened)My Profile

  6. Jennie @themessybakerblog August 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I love how thick this cake is. Mmm, it looks yummy!
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  7. laurasmess August 5, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    I have to admit that I’ve never considered the effect of altitude upon baking. It’s probably because the state where I live is predominantly flat… exactly at sea level! Thanks so much for the cooking tips though. This is such a gorgeous looking coffee cake… I love the moist, fruit studded interior and the gorgeously golden crust. Mmmm! Perfect! Definitely trying this xx
    laurasmess recently posted..Coconut, Banana and Lime Cake with Lime Syrup and Candied CarambolaMy Profile

  8. lapadia August 5, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    Love your light version Susan, right up my alley!
    lapadia recently posted..Cherry-Almond Cinnamon Buns…take twoMy Profile

  9. Lynda August 5, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    Beautiful cake, Susan – best indeed. I love how you lightened it up.

  10. Erika August 5, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    Wow, you’ve been on a roll lately–I just want to make everything that’s come out of your kitchen! I loved your explanation of what you did to this cake to lighten it up–I’m always looking for healthier alternatives to traditionally fatty baked goods. Since this coffeecake has already passed muster with you, I definitely want to try it!! :)
    Erika recently posted..Pancake Fridays: Peach Streusel PancakesMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian August 5, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      Thanks Erika!! And you’re right – I’ve just been on a tear. My husband was traveling last week and I just camped out in the kitchen and baked my heart out. It was so fun. Just make sure to use the tips for baking this at sea level, found in the Tips section just before the recipe! I want you to be happy with the coffee cake :-)
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Mountain Baking: My Best Blueberry Coffee Cake (Lightened)My Profile

  11. Christine (Cook the Story) August 5, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Mmmm…I love the idea of an almost-guilt-free coffee cake. You know, I’ve never had a huge amount of success with coffee cakes, never getting them the way I wan them to be. I really like hte idea of making it airier by whisking the egg whites. Definitely will try!

  12. Christine (Cook the Story) August 5, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Oh, and hey, I love that you’ve somehow added my twitter and facebook links to the comment I just made. Is that a plugin? I’d love to find out more about it if you get a chance. Thank you!
    Christine (Cook the Story) recently posted..22 Cherry Recipes To Keep You CoolMy Profile

  13. Amy Tong August 6, 2013 at 12:32 am #

    Your Blueberry Coffee Cake looks gorgeous and perfect for afternoon tea. I love how you lighten it up. :) Wonderful recipe.

  14. Cookin Canuck August 6, 2013 at 6:12 am #

    It’s hard not to let your mind drift to coffee cake when you have blueberries on hand. I love the changes that you made to lighten things up, particularly whipping the egg whites for added lift. Brilliant!
    Cookin Canuck recently posted..Southwestern Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Recipe with Cumin Black Beans {Vegetarian}My Profile

  15. Janie E August 6, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    I love how rustic is looks. It looks straight out of a country home and that makes me wholeheartedly believe that it’s definitely got to be the best coffeecake in existence!

    Just wanted to stop by and welcome you to Group D in the Secret Recipe Club – looking forward to having you in the group! If you need anything, feel free to email me: fantasticalsharing1 AT gmail DOT com

  16. mjskit August 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Oh YUM! What a scrumptious blueberry coffeecake! It looks SO moist and look at all those blueberries! thanks for the high altitude adjustments. Always appreciated since I’m a mile high.
    mjskit recently posted..Red Chile PasteMy Profile

  17. Mary August 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    I’m the lucky neighbor who got 2 pieces of this coffeecake. I can attest. I’m baking it this weekend for my family. Thanks a bunch Susan

  18. Christine @ 24 Carrot Kitchen August 13, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    I love that this is a lighter version. I agree that many recipes have too much sugar and butter. The photos look lovely and the cake delicious!

  19. Veronica June 26, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Hi! I was wondering if you think this recipe would work the same in a Bundt pan and adding the strusel in first …writing from 7,703 elevation!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian June 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Wow, your elevation is even higher than ours! I wish I had an answer for you. I’ve never made it in a Bundt pan, so I’m just not sure. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it went for you!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Summer Vegetable – Farro SoupMy Profile

      • Veronica July 4, 2014 at 11:51 am #

        Hey there! It worked out great in the Bundt pan although the struesel just melted in and didn’t have that nice crispy texture. I put some on top and bottom so that’s probably why . Other than that it’s been my most successful coffee cake at elevation , thanks!

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