When deciding what cake to make for my birthday, I decided to make something packed with yummy in season blueberries. Now that I am starting to get close to the big 40 and wrinkles are becoming a reality, I decided to go heavy on blueberries which are rich in antioxidants. Every time I read about antioxidants and free radical biology, the benefits of a diet rich in these molecules are overwhelming. In this particular case, I am not sure which wins out the antioxidants or the butter.
It took me a little while to decide what to make but then I remembered an interesting recipe that I read on Cooks Illustrated some years ago for an old fashioned cake called a Buckle. This cake ends up having roots in New England-what more could a transplanted Bostonian want in a cake?! I decided that a pioneer cake should be made using an old fashioned tool – a hand mixer. I inherited this some years ago from my mother in law’s kitchen and have never used because I am addicted to my Kitchen Aide but this seemed like a good time to pull it out.
I thought that the kids would have fun mixing by hand what we usually just dump in the mixing bowl but it ended up being much harder than expected! Between pinched fingers and general frustration, I decided that somethings are better left in the cabinet.
Remember to buy extra blueberries because the kids tend to snack while working!
For the streusel:
1/2 cup (70 g) flour
1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar
2 TBS (25 g) sugar
1/4 tsp (half a coffee spoon) cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 TBS (60 g) butter
For the cake:
1 1/2 cup ( 230 g) flour
1 1/2 tsp (7,5 grams) baking powder
10 TBS (140 g) butter
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
1/2 tsp (1 coffee spoon) salt
1/2 tsp (1 coffee spoon) lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp (7,5 ml) vanilla
500 grams blueberries
Heat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Step 1: Make the streusel. Mix together all the ingredients except for the butter. Use your hands to work in the butter until the streusel resembles wet sand.
Step 2: Wash and pick through the blueberries to eliminate any bad ones. My kids go crazy for blueberries so I added some extra as a snack. You can cut this number back to 400 grams if blueberries are hard to find or expensive! Let dry before adding to the cake. We spread ours out on paper towels.
Step 3: Cream together butter and sugar until light and creamy (this is the step that the hand mixer failed us on!). Then mix in salt, lemon zest and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time mixing well between additions. Add flour/baking powder and mix until incorporated. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter with a large wooden spoon or spatula. This step I did to avoid that the berries were mashed by over energetic mixing.
At this point you should have a thick, heavy batter which will really stick to your spoon.
Step 4: Prepare the baking pan. Butter a round cake pan. Cut out a round of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan. Place in the pan and butter the paper. Dust with flour.
Step 5: Spread the batter in the pan and smooth the top.
Step 6: Cover the cake with streusel. I usually take a handful of the streusel and squeeze to form a ball. Then I break it up over the top of the cake. You want to completely cover the batter.
Step 7: Cook until golden brown. I inserted a knife to make sure that it was completely cooked. It should take around 55 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
This cake was the perfect finishing touch for our lunch. Next time I prepare brunch I am going to make sure to remember this recipe.
This recipe was adapted (Italianized) by me from the original which is present on Cook’s Illustrated.