As I may have mentioned before (or maybe not), I worked for Starbucks Coffee for nearly five years. Much has changed in the years since I bore the green apron heavy with "bling," but the company's newly-updated logo still makes my heart smile.
I was so grateful for the job when I got it. I was living in Sydney as a student, and despite having gone to get my work visa the day after I moved into town, I had a very hard time finding a job.
Hmm... maybe keeping the job was my issue. My first bit of employment was at Darrel Lea, Australia's Godiva (but more cutesy and much less overtly decadent). After Easter they quickly let me go as a "casual" employee. Australia hires most people as "casual" employees, as one week you could receive 30 hours and the next, 5. Or you can receive none, 3 weeks in a row, when I guess you are meant to get the hint.
My next job was at a sandwich shop, the next selling t-shirts to tourists, two nights as a waitress (where I was fired because my hair looked bad- true story), not a single hour at an ice cream parlor, and finally: a job fair at Starbucks.
I wore my best outfit, which is just frightful when I think of it, and I actually made the interviewer cry with my story of misfortune and despair. She told me I would know my fate "by the end of the week," and my phone was in my ready hand for days. Finally, the call came (in the middle of class), and I was one very, very happy girl. I had a job, and boy- was that store a blast. We sat on the corner of Alfred and Pitt, right in the heart of Circular Quay. Our staff was completely international, and we all respected and adored each other (in my memory). I worked at other locations in the USA, but despite picking up my husband at a store in Charleston, none can compare with that first Starbucks experience. Hmm. OK. In retrospect, meeting one's husband is definitely better than working with the motley crew that was Starbucks Circular Quay, but it was still pretty awesome.
Now: to the point (if I must). It is no secret that I have a certain enthusiasm for pastry, and Starbucks holds no exception. Sydney stores were mainly true to local culture, selling sausage rolls, caramel slices, and jaffa squares. Although these were unfamiliar to me, I managed to deal with the adjustment (said my very large rear-end). When I moved to the states (my taste-buds in need of American refreshing), I introduced myself to a whole new sampling of desserts. Coffee cake often met its demise on my plate (pre-trans fat mania), and although I traditionally stuck to the "Reduced-fat Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake," occasionally a corner of "Crumbleberry Coffee Cake" ended up in my mouth and... heaven. For those of you who don't remember it, it looked- well, a lot like this:
Now. I was in no way trying to create "Crumbleberry Coffee Cake." I started with a recipe from Joy the Baker for blackberry pie bars, and while following the recipe completely, I ended up with coffee cake.
And no one is really complaining. Moist, cakey, weighing in at 3 hefty pounds apiece, this crumbly wonder made Memorial Day morning very, very special. I know, Joy, that you call them "bars," but "bar" is a far reach for this nostalgic treat. Maybe (if cut as such) I could see them as "squares," but "bars?"
Eh. Whatever they are or are not, I am making a few changes, and calling them "Crumbleberry Coffee Cake Taste-Alikes."
Because they do.
Crumbleberry Coffee Cake Taste-Alikes
For the crust and topping
1.5 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1.5 sticks of unsalted butter (I'd like to have done half salted and half unsalted), cold and cut into pieces
For the filling
3/4 cup + 2 T sugar
1/2 c sour cream
1/4 cup +2 T flour
pinch of salt
3 cups fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, using 2 knives, a pastry blender, or even your hands. When the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, remove a cup of it and set it to the side. Press the remaining into the bottom of a buttered square pan, and put in an oven preheated to 350 for 15 minutes, or until golden brown (for whatever reason, it actually took me nearly 20). Pull out and cool for about 10 minutes while you make the filling.
Beat the eggs into sour cream, sugar, flour, and salt. Fold in the berries, and pour over the prepared crust. Sprinkle the remaining crust onto the top of the mixture, and place it back into the oven for @55 minutes to an hour (or until golden brown).
Cut when cool(ish), and serve with a bright African coffee to your most favorite friends and family.
Despite my amour for my current industry, my nose misses the smell of a vat of freshly-made mocha, my tongue- coffee cake scrapings in the morning (when you put the coffee cake on the display and then scrape your finger down the empty cardboard to release the buttery resi-goo); my heart- the inward giggle when someone orders an extra cup of "whoop cream" on the side; all of this and more made my life so colorful in those younger years. Although I prefer to make it all at home these days-
Cheers, old friend.