Originally created 01/20/99

Eat for life



Very cherry coffee cake gives you the sweet flavors you may be craving without blowing your diet. This light, airy coffee cake is studded with tart cherries and topped with sweet-and-crunchy streusel and a sweet-tart cherry sauce.

The surprise is that regardless of how indulgent this coffee cake tastes, it has less than 300 calories per serving and gets just 30 percent of calories from fat. It's made with canola oil instead of margarine or butter, so the cake and streusel topping are low in saturated fat. Oil also gives the cake a fluffy, delicate texture. Serve it fresh from the pan as a warm treat for Sunday brunch or a weekend supper.

Very Cherry Coffee Cake

Cherry sauce:

1 (16-ounce) can tart pitted cherries in water

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cake:

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup skim milk

Topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

1/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons dry quick oats

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon canola oil

Heat oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch round or square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

For the cherry sauce: Drain the cherries and reserve the juice and the cherries separately. Place the cherry juice and sugar in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil. In a small container, stir together the cornstarch and water to make a thin paste. Stir the cornstarch into the hot cherry juice and cook 30 seconds longer, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.

For the cake: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and allspice. In a separate container, stir together the oil, egg, vanilla extract and milk. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring about 5 times. Add the cherries and fold in gently until all ingredients are mixed. Do not over mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish.

For the topping: In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats and cinnamon. Add the canola oil and stir continuously with a spatula until all the ingredients are moistened. The mixture will look dry. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool 15 to 20 minutes in the pan, then slice to serve. Serve with about 1 tablespoon of cherry sauce drizzled over the top.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 286; fat, 9.8 grams (30 percent of calories from fat); protein, 4 grams; carbohydrate, 47 grams; dietary fiber, 1 gram; cholesterol, 27 milligrams; sodium, 146 milligrams.

Charlotte Balcomb Lane is the author of two cookbooks. If you have a recipe you would like streamlined to contain less fat and fewer calories, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Lane at 78 Kiva Place, Sandia Park, NM 87047. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the name of your newspaper. You may also send recipes by email to eatlofat@AOL.com.