Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Country Apple Coffee Cake #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  You’ve noticed, no doubt, that when any of us has a new book out, we share recipes from the book, or for food the characters eat, even if the recipe isn’t included. The characters in my suspense debut, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman, out April 13), certainly eat—I don’t trust characters who don’t—and one is a professional baker. Scones, cookies, and full meals show up on the page, but food isn’t essential to the story, as it often is in my cozies. 

But the pie. Oh, the pie. Sarah, my main character, and all her family love huckleberry-peach pie, to the amusement of the waitress in the local café, who brings any McCaskill who comes in a slice without being asked.

Sadly, there are no fresh peaches this time of year and our stash of frozen huckleberries is gone. (The huck, for you innocents, is a wild mountain relative of the blueberry, and a bit of heaven on the tongue.) Other fresh fruits are in short supply, and while cafes and diners also relish their cream pies, I’m not a fan. (I see though, that Lucy is and has a Banana Cream Pie scheduled for next month, so stay tuned!)

Then I remembered that our favorite local café makes an art of coffee cake, often streusel-topped. Who doesn’t love coffee cake? I’ve served up a couple in the past---my Chai Spice Coffee Cake from Chai Another Day, and this yummy, and seasonal Almond Rhubarb Coffee Cake, shown. 

A caution: I used a 9X9 inch pan by mistake. Don’t. The batter barely covered the bottom, but in the 8X8 inch pan the recipe calls for, you’ll get a nice thick cake with that lovely crust wrapped up the sides and the cooked fruit on top. Many coffee cakes use sour cream for added moistness; the original recipe called for low-fat yogurt, which I used with success, though I think any variety of regular yogurt will work equally well. Save the thick Greek yogurt for another time.

So while this apple-topped coffee cake doesn’t appear on the pages of Bitterroot Lake, I have no doubt that you could get a healthy piece if you stopped in the Blue Spruce. Especially if Deb waits on you. 

Almost as good as pie.

Country Apple Coffee Cake

adapted from a recipe by Lucille Cline in The All-New Blue Ribbon Cookbook: Prize-Winning Recipes from America’s State Fairs by Catherine Hanley

1-1/2 cups (8 ounces) dried apples, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup orange juice (no pulp or some pulp works best)

1 cup all-purpose flour (plus 1 tablespoon at altitude)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

powdered sugar, for topping

In a medium saucepan, combine apples and orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid is absorbed. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350. Grease an 8X8 inch pan. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. Add half the flour mixture and mix lightly; add yogurt and remaining flour and mix just until thoroughly blended.

Spread batter in the prepared pan, using the back of your spatula, dampened if necessary, to spread batter evenly. Top with apples. Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

Serve warm, with coffee or (if you must) strong black tea.

From the cover of BITTERROOT LAKE, written as Alicia Beckman (coming April 13, 2021 from Crooked Lane Books in hardcover, ebook, and audio): 

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman's suspense debut.

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah's guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she's a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she's greeted by an old friend--and by news of a murder that's clearly tied to that tragic day she'll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by her website and join the mailing list for her seasonal newsletter. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.


  1. Oh YUM! And agree that drinking tea with this just doesn't seem right. After all, it's called COFFEE cake. Although a nice glass of milk might hit the spot...

  2. Florida's peaches are beginning to come in. I've gotten some at two different places, both small, one ripening better than the other.
    But it gives me hope!

    1. Peaches are a wonderful sign of hope!

    2. Your dried apples reminded me of college in central PA. There was a famer's market and my first stop was always to get an Amish snitz pie: a hand size pie filled with cooked, dried apples. It fueled my market explorations.

  3. Ooh, this looks yummy! I'll have to admit to not being much of a pie person, but a lovely slice of cake like this is welcome any time :D

    1. Not a pie person? But you seemed like such a lovely woman! :)

  4. I always wondered why sour cream was added to the ingredient list. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Leslie!

    1. My pleasure, Jennifer! I always associate coffee cake with farms -- who knows why -- where sour cream was always in good supply!