Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

 reading time: 10 min

Blueberries are in season at the moment, and what better way to use some of them up than with a crumb cake. A cheesecake crumb cake, I should say! And a vegan one at that. Combining a classic blueberry streusel cake with a creamy cheesecake filling was inspired by Vera's recipe over at Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts. I modified (mainly "healthified") her mouthwatering creation and turned it into a vegan & wheat-free cake that is both crunchy and creamy-smooth. The crust and streusel topping are made from the same dough, which means less work and less dirty dishes, too. But the cheesecake filling is by far the best part. Tasty, refreshing, and just the right amount of topping to filling to cake ratio!

You'll love this cake because it's

gluten-free (optional)
bursting with fresh blueberries
& delicious!

We made this cake right after picking the blueberries in the field and served it to J's family that same afternoon. And what can I say? They ate it up so quickly, I couldn't even look that fast! So yeah, it was a real hit, and I was even asked to make this cake to J's sister's wedding next month! However, I've got a different cake for their wedding in mind, so stay tuned for that ... :)

This recipe is also a wonderful option for either Litha, celebrating the summer solstice, or for Lammas, the first of the three harvest festivals – especially when you get the chance to actually harvest the blueberries yourself, like we did! Lammas / Lughnasadh is celebrated on the 1st of August, so you still have a few days to pick or buy blueberries and bake this lovely cake in time ;-)

Just a little heads-up: This cake is best made the day before you’d like to serve it so that it has time to cool in the oven and set nicely in the fridge. 

So last weekend J
, his mum and I actually went to a self-picking plantation / pick-your-own farm to gather blueberries for the very first time in my life! We've been wanting to do that for several years, and we finally got around to doing it. It was so much fun and very rewarding. I had gone strawberry picking with my friends a few times before, which was super fun but always took ages because so many of the strawberries were either unripe or already rotting. With blueberries it's so much faster! Within 30 or 45 minutes we collected a total of 4.5 kilos of summer's sapphire blue jewels.

Blueberries are a true local superfood and a powerhouse of antioxidants – they are even ranked number one in terms of their antioxidant benefits. Packed with vitamins A, C and E, blueberries also contain many B-vitamins as well as minerals, tannins, fibre, and anti-inflammatory anthocyanins, which slow down the aging process and even prevent cancer to a certain extent. They are really underrated, if you ask me. No need to get fancy açai berries. Just get blueberries instead!

In cooking, blueberries are commonly used for pies, cakes, jams, muffins, cookies, pancakes, sauces, syrups, juices, ice creams and crumbles. I like to eat mine in my oatmeal or cereal every morning and in a smoothie now and then.

Blueberries are not only popular in human cuisine though, but also an important food source for native and migrating birds, bears, and small mammals. They are one of the few naturally blue foods on earth! Cool, eh?

Where and How to Harvest Blueberries

Both the European blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), also known as bilberry or whortleberry, and the American blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), also known as blue huckleberry, are part of the low-growing deciduous shrubs in the genus Vaccinium, which also includes the bog bilberry, cranberry, lingonberry, and huckleberry. The plant is usually found in wooded or open areas with moist, nutrient-poor and acidic soils. You can find wild blueberries in sparse woods, heathland, moor landscapes, and even near lakes.

The bushes grow low to the ground, from 10-50 cm high. The small leaves are bright green, turning to red in autumn. They grow alternately on the stem, have a pointed oval shape, with fine serrations along the edge. Their flowers are yellowish white to reddish, bell-shaped and hanging.

There are two types of blueberries: wild and cultivated. While cultivated blueberries such as the American blueberry usually grow on high bushes and
have white, green or translucent, mildly fragrant flesh, and grow in large bushes with the fruit in bunches, wild blueberries such as the European blueberry have dark red/purple, strongly fragrant flesh and red juice that turns blue in basic environments. They grow on low bushes in the heathland with smaller fruits that grow individually on the bushes and will stain hands, teeth and tongue deep blue or purple while eating. They also contain higher levels of antioxidants. Both wild and cultivated blueberries are rounded and dark blue or bluish-black on the outside.

The most common blueberry lookalikes include Oregon grape aka holly-leaved berberry (Mahonia aquifolium; the berries are edible, but the seeds are poisonous, so make sure to strain them!), pokeberries (Phytolacca americana; poisonous!), and several members of the nightshade family (Solanaceae; some species are toxic and dangerous, e. g. the deadly nightshade!), salal (Gaultheria shallon; edible) and buckthorn (e. g. alder buckthorn, Rhamnus frangula / Frangula alnus; slightly poisonous). To wrap up: Make sure you've got the right plant!

When harvesting blueberries, make sure not too pick the berries to soon. Wait until they are completely grey-blue and ripe – they should fall off right into your hand with no tugging.

Blueberries are sweetest two or three days after they turn dark blue, when the fruit is slightly soft to the touch. Berries with any blush of red are not ripe. Individual berries in a cluster do not ripen at the same time, so hand-pick every berry, removing only the ripest berries from the shrub. Gently "roll" the berries off the stem and into your palm. Place them in your bucket or basket until you have harvested all the blueberries you want – of course, leaving enough for the animals to feed and for the plant to recover! Also, don't forget to pop a few in your mouth while picking them ... Important taste testing, haha!

Depending on where you live, blueberry season can be anywhere from June through September. The
harvesting peak is usually in July and mid-August.

Once you are done harvesting the blueberries, you can use them immediately (e. g. for this delicious cake!), store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze them for later use. I froze half of them to throw them straight from the freezer into smoothies, or to mix them into my hot oatmeal.


inspired by Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts

Preparation time: 1 h 30 mins (+ 2 hours cooling time)
Main ingredients: blueberries, oats, spelt flour, margarine, sugar
difficulty level: easy
yields: 10 slices (26 cm- or 10-inch springform pan)
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, wheat-free, yeast-free


Crumble Cake:
3/4 cup (180 g) vegan butter or
margarine, chilled
3/4 cup cup (140 g) raw cane sugar or brown sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 tsp vanilla essence
(optional) zest of 1 organic lemon
2 cups (180 g) rolled oats
1 1/2 cups (180 g) spelt flour (type 630)
pinch of salt

Cheesecake Filling:
2 cups (500 g) plain vegan quark (you can drain
your own homemade soy yogurt; or sub silken-firm tofu; my vegan quark packet contained 400 g, so I also added 100 g of vegan vanilla quark)
1 cup (120 g) vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup (120 g) vegan butter or margarine, softened
1/2 + 1/8 cup (120 g) cane sugar
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (50 g) cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla essence
(optional) juice of 1 organic lemon

3 cups (400 g) blueberries, fresh or frozen **

* For a gluten-free cake, use a gluten-free flour blend instead.

** You can also
replace the blueberries in this recipe with raspberries, blackberries, cherries, or a few thickly slices peaches or apricots instead, depending on what is in season right now where you live. (I made an autumnal crumble cake with apples and pears as well as a late summer plum crumble cake a few years ago).


Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F. Grease and flour a 26 cm- or 10-inch springform pan.

For the cake:

In a large mixing bowl, cream vegan butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla and lemon zest (if using).

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, oats and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mix, and knead with your hands until a crumbly dough forms.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough between two large pieces of baking paper (or on a lightly floured surface). Press the rolled out dough in the bottom and side of the prepared springform pan.

Cover the springform pan with a clean kitchen towel and place in the refrigerator, along with the remaining dough, wrapped in the baking paper from before, or in cling film.

For the filling:

While the dough is chilling, prepare the "cheesecake" filling. Add all ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl: vegan quark, vegan cream cheese, melted vegan butter or margarine, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla essence, and lemon juice (if using). Mix until creamy using an electric mixer. Set aside in the fridge.
For the crumbs:

With your fingers, crumble the remaining chilled dough into pea-sized streusel.  
To assemble:

Pour half of the cheesecake mixture in the chilled crust. Gently tap the pan a few times on your work surface to remove any air bubbles. Scatter about 1 cup of blueberries over the filling. Spread remaining cheesecake mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining blueberries as well as the streusel topping.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. If the top has started to brown too much, cover the top with baking paper or aluminium foil. Bake for further 30 minutes.

After a total baking time of about 50 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the cake inside for another 5–10 minutes. This prevents the cheesecake filling from cracking.

Remove and
transfer the pan to a wire rack. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Remove the sides from the springform pan and slide the cake onto the rack, allowing it to fully cool.

The cake may still appear a bit wobbly after baking, but it will firm up while cooling! For best results, place the cake in the fridge as soon as it has cooled down to room temperature to set for 2 hours or even overnight before serving.

Cut and serve. Enjoy!

Any leftover cake should keep for up to 4 days covered in the fridge. Ours was gone within 10 minutes so I can't really tell, hehe.

- This cake has tons of texture and flavour all by itself, and it doesn’t really need a glaze, but if you like it a little more sweet, you could make a glaze by combining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 2-3 tsp non-dairy milk in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the crumb cake, or opt for a simple dusting of powdered sugar instead.
- To make this delicious cheesecake crumb cake for a larger crowd, double the recipe and bake on a sheet.
- This recipe also works with frozen berries. Just make sure not to under-bake the cake as frozen berries can add some extra moisture.

- Covered and stored in the fridge overnight, this cake gets firms up nicely. Just remember to take it out of the fridge in good time before serving it – it tastes best at room temperature.
- If you've bought, harvested or wildcrafted too many blueberries to eat over the course of two or three days, it's best to freeze them. Simply rinse them under running water with a strainer to remove any stems and debris. Shake off any excess water and spread the blueberries on a tray to dry. Don't put too many berries on the tray – they should be spread in one layer, and not lie on top of each other. Place the tray into the freezer for 1 to 2 hours. Then transfer the blueberries into a sealable containers and freeze properly.

Here's also a few pictures of J's cousin's chickens and rooster :) They are so cute! I really want to have a small flock of backyard chickens some day, too. Once a country girl, always a country girl ...