By Theresa Curry/images by Mark Miller
A cake for blueberry season
I've raised blueberries here in the South, with mixed results. The introduction of new varieties makes it possible, as long as you take some care in choosing the right berry for the right soil and season.
However, I've learned that every living thing, including bears, loves this luscious fruit. The bears may leave urban berry growers alone, but the birds seem to have a network that successfully gets the word out, so birds swoop in at the very minute when the first berry turns blue and perch nearby until the last one disappears. I tried to solve this problem one summer by planting the bushes in a hedge (they're very attractive) inside the patio where my large dog hangs out, only to look out the window one day to see him happily munching away.
Now, I buy berries at the farmer's market (I always buy extra for the dog!) and fold them into one of my favorite cakes, a simple, buttery blueberry cake I found over at Food52, although it was originally published in "The New England Cookbook". This recipe specifies an electric mixer, but if your butter is soft, it's easy to mix by hand. The last time I made it, I was out of vanilla and put in a little rum instead, with fine results.
BLUEBERRY SNACK CAKE
(created by Brooke Dojny)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
1/3 cup whole or lowfat milk, coconut milk or almond milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups blueberries
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer or a food processor, cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and process or beat until smooth. Spoon the flour mixture into the processor or bowl and pulse or beat just until the flour is incorporated. If the batter is in a food processor, transfer it to a large bowl. Sprinkle the blueberries over the batter and gently fold them in, just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the nuts and then with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake until the nuts are deep brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. (The cake can be wrapped well and stored at cool room temperature for 1 day, or frozen.)
Cut into squares or wedges in the pan to serve.
Long-time food writer Theresa Curry tells stories about food and the people who prepare it and is grateful to have chosen a career that has her shelling muddy crawfish one day and tasting fine wine the next.
A current project is working on a series of food stories as part of the documentary division of Alpha Vision Films.
Connect with Theresa via email at firstname.lastname@example.org