Blueberry Lemon Coffeecake with A-peel

Oh, the joys of fresh blueberries!


Available in a backyard near you, but sometimes just not soon enough!

I’ve been keeping a close eye on my blueberry bushes this year. With the very wet spring, they just don’t seem to be themselves. Last year, our crop from 3 bushes was so large, that I *gasp* simply stopped picking them by mid September. I had taken bowlfuls to work, baked till I was blue in the face, and had several gallons of berries in the freezer. I couldn’t face another round of picking and washing, so I shared my bounty with the birds, chipmunks and the occasional poodle. (Charlie likes to eat berries right off the bush).

This year is a very different story, though. Many of the branches didn’t have blossoms, or very few, and growth seems to be down too. Being the superstitious person that I am, I blame my fussing over last year’s profusion on this year’s poor showing. Mother Nature is in a snit and has decided to teach me a lesson in thankfulness.  A  more reasonable gardener, namely my husband, assures me this is not the case, and with a good shot of fertilizer in the fall, all will be well next year.

In the meantime, just knowing that my berry supply will be far less this year, I’ve begun a hunt for some truly spectacular recipes, not wanting to waste a single plump purple berry. I’m a huge fan of the blueberry-lemon combination. I almost always add lemon oil and lemon zest to my pie crust for blueberry pie, and a little lemon zest to my blueberry muffins as well. I know I’ll have enough berries for a batch or two of muffins, but I’m not sure if I’ll have enough for a whole pie.

What about coffeecake? Tender, warm coffeecake with moist bursting berries, tinging the cake a delicate lilac in places. For the lemon, I thought about adding lemon zest, but while rooting about in the test kitchen fridge, I came across a container of candied lemon peel. Perfect! After nibbling a few pieces, you know, just to be sure it tasted just right, I nabbed the whole container and headed back to my mixer.

Now, I know most folks associate lemon peel or peel in general with holiday baking and panettone, but why not use it in the summer? A container stored in the fridge will last around 8 months and quite often there is just enough left in the container for one more batch of something after the holidays, since one can only eat so much fruitcake. Allow me to suggest another great use for the peel. Lemon streusel. A white streusel, richly studded with peel, adding tang and enhancing the sweetness of the berries. Now that’s my idea of coffeecake.

Let’s get started on our Blueberry Coffeecake with Lemon Streusel.

First, let’s talk berries. You can use fresh or frozen berries for the coffeecake. My fresh berries aren’t ripe yet, so it’s frozen berries for me today. Nowadays, most frozen fruit and veggies are flash frozen within hours of picking, so the quality is excellent.

Whenever I use frozen berries, I like to give them a rinse first to get off any large ice crystals, and any extra juice from all the handling and traveling the package has been through. Just pop the berries in a colander and rinse under cool water.


As you can see, there’s plenty of extra color to be rinsed away. My dishes wound up with a lovely purple hue!  Set the berries aside to drain well and CLEAN THE SINK!

While the berries drain, let’s make streusel.


Combine the flour, sugar and salt, whisking until well combined. Toss the peel in until well coated.

If you prefer smaller pieces of peel, as many of our taste testers did, you can pulse this mixture in a food processor for 15-20 seconds. You will still have visable pieces of peel, ready to provide a bright burst of lemon in the streusel.


Break up the butter with your fingers and add it to the bowl. Sprinkle on the lemon oil OR extract and work all into the flour/peel mixture. You can use a pastry blender for this, but I’m a use-your-fingers kind of baker.


The streusel will have mostly large lumps and a wet, sandy feel. The large pieces should “squish” easily between your fingers, but not feel melted or soggy.  Set this aside while you make the cake batter.

Now is a good time to prepare your pan too, and preheat the oven to 350°F. This recipe works well for a 9″x 13″x 2″ pan or two 8″ x 2″ round pans. Our bake-and-give pans are perfect for this. One to keep and one to share!


Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. See how the tips of the mixture form little peaks? That’s a good sign that your mixture is lightening up.


Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each egg until it’s incorporated.


This egg isn’t fully incorporated yet. See the clumps of yolk at the bottom of the bowl, and note the curdled look of the batter. Keep on mixin’!


There you go, all better. The batter is beginning to thicken up nicely. On to the sour cream!


Add the sour cream and vanilla. Again, mix until well blended. There is no added flour at this point, so you won’t be toughening the cake. Don’t go overboard though.


Last, add your dry ingredients.  Now is when you want to be careful about over-blending or overbeating. Remember, gluten begins to form when the flour gets wet, and mixing and stretching will strengthen that gluten. By mixing just until there are no streaks of flour left in the batter, you’re ensuring that the gluten doesn’t tighten up and make your cake chewy and tough. A light hand makes a light cake.


Gently fold in your well-drained berries. Mine were still a little wet, so there are some definite purple streaks going on. Blotting the berries with a paper towel before adding to the batter will help take care of that.


Spread the batter in your prepared pan. My purple streaks are still there, but they’ll be covered in streusel soon.


Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cake batter. You will most likely need to break up some of the clumps to get all-over coverage.


Mmmm, you can still see bits of lemon peel in the streusel. If you didn’t run the topping through the food processor, the bits will be larger. I like the chewiness of the larger pieces of peel, and the slight bitter taste the larger pieces offer, but this is definitely “baker’s choice.”


Into the oven they go. Time to tidy up, check email and make a cup of tea. Set your timer accordingly, so you don’t forget these beauties.


Ah, done to perfection. The toasted streusel, the tender fragrant cake. A tester inserted into the center should come out clean, or with just a moist crumb or two attached.


Do let the cake cool slightly before serving. It’s very tender, and needs a little time to set. Just enough time for you to make another cup of tea! Enjoy your well-earned treat and keep your fingers crossed for my berry bushes’ speedy recovery; I’ll definitely be wanting more of this cake.

Please bake, rate and review this recipe Blueberry Coffeecake with Lemon Streusel.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Bridget

    That looks utterly delicious! So wish I had some to go with my tea this morning! 🙂
    Bridget, me too! I had to settle for day old biscuits. 🙁 Guess I’ll have to bake up a storm over the weekend. Happy Baking! ~ MaryJane

  2. Terri A.

    I love the lemon and blueberry combo, too and this looks just wonderful! I can’t wait to try it this weekend. I do have a question about frozen berries, though – most recipes say not to thaw them before mixing them into the batter, but if you’re rinsing and draining them, most likely they are thawed. Would adding the berries, still frozen work? You are rinsing the frozen berries in cool water so they are still frozen, but you can certainly use frozen berries without rinsing if you’d like. Molly @ KAF

  3. Kathy

    I just tried to lick my monitor. Granted, I had a granola bar for breakfast that made from the KAF recipe, but still — what a luscious-looking coffee cake!

    Hey, thanks for this recipe. Here in Madison, WI, we’re still waiting on blueberries to appear at the farmers’ market, but cherries started appearing last week. I pitted and froze my first pint last night, so I think I’ll use those – plus some other berry – in this recipe. Plus, the lemon peel could stay, or I could swap in orange peel instead!

    Yum. Thanks so much!
    Hi Kathy,
    We’ve been munching on cherries all week here, they are delicious! I’ve noticed they are bigger and plumper this year, I feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck. The cherry and orange peel combo sounds terrific. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

  4. marielle

    we planted mature blueberry bushes this year and in my research learned that it’s actually the watering from the year before that determines this year’s bounty. So look forward to next year’s bounty from all the rain and like your husband said, a good bit of sulfur will perk your berries right up.

    I prefer mine in blueberry buckle or crisp. Yum.
    Thanks Marielle, I feel better about the bushes. Our blackberry crop is going to be overwhelming this year, so I’ll just make my favorites with blackberries this season. Happy Baking! ~ MaryJane

  5. kate

    dumb question here – what is/where do you find that lemon peel stuff? i assume you dont just peel a lemon you have laying around and toss it in, right?

    could i do the crumble and just use lemon zest for flavor? (i used it in the blueberry muffin recipe from last week (amazing) which WAS going to be my standard weekend breakfast for the next few weeks, but i am thinking it may get shoved out of the way with THIS blueberry yumminess!) The candied lemon peel is an item you find in fruitcake or hot cross buns. We sell it, #1812, 8 oz. $8.95, and it is absolutely delicious! If you’d like, you can substitute 2 teaspoons or to taste of lemon zest. Molly @ KAF

  6. BigSis

    Oh my GOSH this looks scrumptious! I’ve never heard of candied lemon peel, much less seen it anywhere. I’m intrigued though! I also adore lemon with blueberries, so it would have to be good. Thanks for the great idea!
    Hey BigSis, how are you and Lilsis? You HAVE to try candied lemon peel if you like lemon. I put it in my Lebkuchen, and DH loves it. I nibble straight from the container sometimes, but don’t tell anyone. If you pick it up now, you’ll still have plenty for holiday baking too. Take care! ~ MaryJane

  7. Jan

    This looks so good. And wonder of wonders, I have blueberries this year!!!!

    If you like to grow your own, you owe it to yourself to check out Wayside Gardens ( drawf blueberry bush. I have this, growing in about a 12-inch pot on my deck. It’s about 18 inches high and is now two years old. I picked a pint of blueberries from it over the last couple of weeks. Plus you only need ONE plant – it’s self pollinating.

    I live in the south, so our winters are pretty mild, but it has survived just fine and is growing. In fact, it’s probably going to need a larger pot.

    I don’t work for Wayside! But this is sure a nice variety of blueberry.
    OMG, that sounds GREAT! I would love to have a small bush. I wonder if it would survive indoors for the winter in a very sunny window. I’m going to have to check it out. Thanks for the tip! ~ MaryJane

  8. Kim

    Sorry about your potentially low blueberry yield. I had a similar problem with our cherry tree this year–too much rain made over half the cherries mold before they ripened. I harvested over 4 gallons pitted last year, and this year, barely a gallon. It made me SO sad!
    Hi Kim,
    It’s hard, isn’t it? When you are so used to having lovely fresh fruit for all your favorites, and suddenly it’s not there, it feels wrong and sad, as you said. Luckily, the blackberries are overwhelming this year, so it kind of makes up for it. Next year, when we are up to our eyeballs in fruits, we trade! 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  9. jonathan

    I can’t say how much I want to taste it…! You make it so beautiful, especially with the blueberries. I’ll combine that idea with my recipes, thanks!
    Hi Jonathan,
    I have to “give props” to Brenda, our photographer and design guru. She takes my humble baked goods and makes them look magazine worthy. A genius with a simple plate, fork and napkin. YEAH BRENDA!! ~ MaryJane

  10. npm

    Wow! This looks so good. Wish I could have a slice for dessert now. You’re so lucky to have blueberries growing in your backyard. Fresh blueberries are so expensive where I live.
    We are lucky indeed, we are surrounded by blackberry bushes too. Too bad berries are hard to come by for you, but this does work beautifully with frozen berries. ~ MaryJane

  11. Pam

    Your coffeecake looks so good. Wish I was your!!!

    I love blueberries!


    HI Pam,
    Not many neighbors up my way. Can’t see another house from ours for the trees, so it would be nice to share with someone. I’ll let you know if any land comes up for sale 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  12. marianne

    I made a blueberry buckle last week, looks like lemon-blueberry coffee cake this weekend.

    We used to have a dog who would eat raspberries from the bush–there usually weren’t many left to pick down low where he could get them!

  13. Kimberly D

    This looks yummy, I like coffee cake even though I don’t drink coffee……lol
    I don’t know how Michigan’s blueberry crop is this year. I do know that the cherries didn’t do good due to the cold spring. How long would you say blueberries last frozen? I have some that is a few years old in my freezer….lol I too froze a lot one year.

    Kimberly, any berry that’s frozen will gradually deteriorate, but I’ve used berries that have been in the freeer for several years. So long as you bake them enough to get out any “freezer taste,” they seem to be fine. Go for it! PJH

  14. sue epstein

    This looks divine! Blueberries are my favorite, but I’m going to have to try it with cherries (which are my second favorite and available here). You’re sooo lucky to grow your own blueberries. I live in Israel where our soil isn’t compatible with blueberries. You can OCCASIONALLY find a few but need to take out a second mortgage on your house before buying them! We get frozen blueberries but they’re also very expensive because they’re imported from the States.

  15. Robin

    Candied lemon peel in streusel topping for blueberry coffee cake . . . now that is just inspired. Cannot WAIT to give this a try! We have tons of Jersey blueberries in the stores here now, they’re fantastic this summer. I’ve already made plenty of jam and pie filling, now it’s time to make some breakfast goodies! Thanks so much for this excellent recipe. I’ll be making it with GF flour and will let everyone know how it turned out, if anyone’s interested 🙂

    Btw, if you don’t have access to candied lemon peel but do have a microplane, just use it on a fresh lemon rind for the most delicate and bright-tasting zest you’ve ever had. I love our microplane, it’s paid for itself many times over.

  16. Laura

    Any comment or prediction how this would fare with freezing it? I’d like to make it ahead and freeze it for a special event.
    It should freeze fine, if it is cooled, then wrapped well and frozen. I wouldn’t freeze it for longer than 3 months. Mary @ KAF

  17. Shirley

    I wold love to try the new unbleached cake flour. I have been baking for over 50 years. I discovered King Arthur flour several years ago and absolutely love it. I use a lot of the KA bread flour – but it is so difficult to find in my area. I do not use cake flour. If I were to receive a box of this new flour I would use it to make cakes for our annual (64th) barbecue. I always make at least 10-12 cakes for this event.

  18. Em

    This came together easily and pretty quickly too. I didn’t have the candied lemon peel so I used lemon zest instead. Instead of making 2 cakes I just halved all the ingredients and used a single 8×8 square pan.

    It’s in the oven now and smells delish!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

  19. Em

    This turned out absolutely fantastic! People told me it was “perfect” and I couldn’t agree more. I posted it (along with tons of praise) on my website today 🙂

    KAF – thank you SO MUCH for being such a phenomenal resource.

    Thank you!
    Thank you!
    THANK YOU !!!

  20. dlin

    I love love love this recipe and so does everyone else whom I’ve given this too. I was wondering if I could prepare the batter the night before with the frozen blueberries and bake it off in the morning. Or would I need to freeze the batter to prevent the frozen blueberries from thawing out in the batter?
    Making the batter ahead of time should be fine here. ~Amy

  21. delaneyshouse

    Great coffeecake! I notice in the photos above that the cakes were placed on the low rack of the oven. Recipes seldom indicate where in the oven to place your pans. Often my cakes bake with a flat top and not with a nicely rounded top. Is the oven rack placement or the method of mixing the batter. What rack should this blueberry lemon coffeecake be placed on?

    Oven placement can be tricky as it really depends on your oven! However, a well calibrated oven tends to bake best on the middle rack. I am not sure why these were baked on the bottom, but I tend to save it for my pizza stone as it is near the heating coils. As such it tends to run pretty hot!-Jon

  22. Leanne

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I am quite sure I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  23. Rosalinda

    Hey I am so glad I found your blog, I really found you by accident, while I was browsing on Askjeeve for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a fantastic post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the great job.

  24. Jennifer Bowman

    I needed to bake 10 minutes longer in the 9×13. I haven’t tried it yet, but it was a little soupy in the middle at 35 minutes.

  25. debra gilchrist

    would your monkey bread pan be good to bake this in? I used a tube pan with higher sides and it was almost too tender to turn out. I was afraid the drop would break it apart. what tube pan would you recommend?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Debra,
      Our Monkey Bread Tube Pan would be perfect for this recipe, or you can use a 9″ by 13″ or two 8″ rounds if you want the cake to be a bit more sturdy. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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