I know I say this about far too many things, but I love blueberries. The best berry for baking as far as I'm concerned, they become moist, tender, exquisitely perfumed and just plain addictive once they're baked in a cake like the one below.
If you're interested in the history of the modern blueberry take a look at my article, Mother of the Blues, in the current June/July issue of Saveur magazine No. 148. It should be available at saveur.com once the next issue is out.
Try this recipe, you'll be glad you did:
In New York City where I live, blueberry season is fairly long, since we have blueberries form the south, then New Jersey, then finally from Maine and Michigan, consecutively throughout several months. I love this type of cake and blueberries are the perfect fruit for it – they melt to a jam-like consistency between the cake batter and crumb topping while the cake is baking.
Makes one 9 x 13 x 2-inch cake, about 24 2-inch squares
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
16 tablespoons (2 sticks/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
1 quart blueberries, rinsed, picked over and dried
One 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan, buttered and lined fully (bottom and sides) with parchment or foil
- Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- For the crumb topping, mix the flour, baking powder, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Melt the butter and stir it in evenly. Rub the mixture to coarse crumbs by hand.
- In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar until soft and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
- Stir together the flour and baking powder and stir add to the batter in three additions, alternating with the yolks and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
- Scatter the blueberries evenly over the batter, pressing them in gently, then top with the crumbs.
- Bake the cake about 40 minutes until batter is firm and crumbs are well colored. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack. Cut the cooled cake into twenty four 3-inch squares. Remove the squares from the pan to a platter.
Serving: This a great breakfast cake and also transports well, right in the pan, to a picnic.
Storage: Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage. Defrost cake and bring it to room temperature before serving.