24 September 2005

Recipe: The Mohan Family's Blueberry Cake

Nothing tastes like summer quite as much as fresh blueberries. They're delicious on your morning cereal or by the handful, straight off the bush. Where I grew up in New England, blueberry picking was a popular summertime activity for families with children, and once the freezer was stocked with enough berries for a whole winter of pancakes, blueberry pies and crumbles abounded.

I've never particularly enjoyed the texture of blueberry pies or cobblers, and to me, this blueberry cake—a family favorite passed from my grandmother to my father to me—is a perfect use of summer's best fruit. This cake is at its very best when you use wild blueberries, straight off the bush. For those of us who live in cities, as I now do, those are nearly impossible to come by, so any fresh blueberries will do. Don't bother with frozen, however... they're too fragile and you could well end up with just a gray cake!

The Mohan Family's Blueberry Cake

For the cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk (whole is best)

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups blueberries (preferably wild, if available; rinsed, dried, and tossed with 4 tsp. of the flour)
For the topping:
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste... I like lots of cinnamon)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a parchment-lined 8x8x2 pan
(though a 9x5x3 loaf pan works well and makes the cake highly portable for brunches and barbeques!).
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, with your mixer's paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar in. Add egg and vanilla and beat on high until the mixture is light and creamy.
- With the mixer set on low, gradually add the flour mixture a third at a time, alternating with the milk until combined. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl at this stage to make sure the flour is well combined. The batter will be quite thick.
- With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed in the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center
of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

This cake is great with coffee for an indulgent breakfast, and I also recommend it in the afternoon with a cold glass of lemonade.

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