About this time every summer, I develop a form of fruit schizophrenia. Am I strawberry today? Or am I blueberry? A buy-one, get-one sale the other day swung the pendulum toward blueberries for me. Roger sometimes refers to these sales as a buy-one, throw-one-away sale. Hey, it can happen to the best of us sometimes— usually after I buy four boxes of a cereal that my kids normally go through in the blink of an eye. They then decide they don’t like it any more. I knew, however, that these blueberries were going to be put to good use immediately.
This recipe for Blueberry Pudding Cake appeared on the cover of Gourmet magazine in July 2005, and I’ve been making it once or twice every summer since then. It is my daughter Sara’s favorite cake. She, unlike the rest of us, can take or leave chocolate. (I’m still trying to figure out how the hospital switched an identical twin at birth.) Nevertheless, non-chocolate though the cake may be, the chocoholics in the family all thoroughly enjoy it. The original Gourmet write-up says that it makes 6 to 8 breakfast or dessert servings. Breakfast? How I would have loved that growing up! All I ever got was oatmeal and eggs, with an occasional pancake or French toast breakfast thrown in.
Whether you decide to serve it for breakfast or dessert, your family and your taste buds will thank you. Served warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream or at room temperature when it sets up so delectably, it is simply luscious.
Blueberry Pudding Cake
For Pudding Mixture
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 2 tbl. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 4 cups fresh blueberries (2 pints) – Fran’s note: I’ve used frozen blueberries successfully.
For Cake Batter
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tsp. vanilla
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 13×9-inch pan.
Whenever cornstarch is used as a thickening agent in a recipe, I always put it in a mixing cup (or bowl) and then slowly whisk in whatever liquid ingredient the recipe calls for. This common technique is called making a slurry. The whisking will prevent the cornstarch from clumping. You want to have it totally dissolved so that it will be evenly distributed in the blueberry mixture to thicken it properly.
So, put the 2 tsp. of cornstarch in a mixing cup and slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup of water. Keep whisking until the cornstarch and water are totally combined and the cornstarch is dissolved. If you don’t have a tiny whisk, use a fork to get the desired results. I highly recommend having whisks in small, medium, and large sizes—the right tool for the right job! That’s what Roger tells me when he buys yet another tool for his workshop. I just smile and file that away in my memory box and pull it out should he question why I am buying another kitchen item for my arsenal.
For Pudding Mixture
Stir together 2/3 cup brown sugar with the water and cornstarch slurry you have mixed, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan until well mixed. Then stir in blueberries. Bring to a simmer, then simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Mash blueberries so that they are pulpy. Remove from heat and set aside while you make the cake batter.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
Whisk together egg, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl, then add flour mixture, whisking until just combined.
Spoon batter into prepared baking pan, spreading evenly; then pour blueberry mixture evenly over batter (berries will sink during baking). Bake until a knife inserted into center of cake portion comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.
Fran’s note: I’ve made this cake at least 10 times. With the exception of this last time, every other time, the berries have completely sunk to the bottom so that when I cut the cake and I flip it over onto the plate, the top is solid berries. For some strange reason, there was a very thin layer of cake at the bottom of the pan rather than solid berries this time. It didn’t affect the flavor at all—it was quite yummy as usual!
Source: Adapted from Gourmet