We’ve been berry-picking on an almost weekly basis for going on two months now.
Strawberries are my personal favorite, but E. is especially fond of blueberries (even though he tends to call them grapes). He has been on a real blueberry bender lately, working steadily through the big bucketful that we picked a few days ago.
I feel bad denying my baby fresh fruit, but I had to hoard a few of the berries so that I could make my great-aunt Marnie’s blueberry ring.
Marnie had a big, metal recipe box full of recipe cards and newspaper clippings that I was lucky enough to inherit several years ago. She loved to entertain and her recipes reflect that, with little notations about dinner party menus or cocktail pairings, like the words “good port” scrawled at the top of a recipe for chocolate walnut wafers.
Flipping through the recipe box is like stepping back in time. There are handwritten recipes for gingerbread and lemon meringue pie attributed to my great-grandmother who died 80 or 90-some-odd years ago, when Marnie was just a teenager; instructions for once-fashonable dishes like tomato aspic and Waldorf salad; a newspaper clipping about crab imperial from the now-defunct “Washington Star” newspaper.
Marnie died when I was in my early 20s, but I have lots of childhood memories of holidays gathered around her big, oval dining table. In particular, I remember how she used to serve vanilla ice cream spooned into parfait glasses (these) and topped with a little splash of creme de menthe, which always seemed so very sophisticated to me.
I don’t actually have any memories of eating this blueberry bundt cake at Marnie’s house, but I do have a clear recollection of helping my grandmother make it from Marnie’s recipe one summer, when I was maybe 12 or so.
I especially loved the sugar-encrusted blueberries on top of the cake that became all jammy in the oven, creating a candy-like topping.
So I was thrilled to find the recipe written on an index card in Marnie’s neat cursive handwriting. Like many of her recipes, it is a simple one, with minimal instruction. She doesn’t say what kind of pan to use, but the name blueberry ring sort of implies a bundt pan and that’s what I remember using with my grandmother, so that’s what I used this time too.
Marnie does include a note to serve the cake with either ice cream or whipped cream. We did the latter the other night and I plan on polishing off the leftovers in the same way.
This cake batter is mixed like muffin batter — as opposed to using the creaming method, more common for cakes — and it has a muffin-like texture. It also has only a tiny bit of fat (from two tablespoons of butter and a single egg), a generous amount of fruit and a relatively small amount of sugar, as far as cakes go.
All of which combines to make a cake that works nicely for dessert but would not be out of place on the breakfast table, either. Just forego the ice cream and brew up some coffee instead.
I used a 10" bundt pan with a capacity of about 12 cups, however you can see in the pictures that I had room to spare. As long as your pan has a capacity of at least 6 cups, I think it should work just fine.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 cups blueberries, divided
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a bundt or tube pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
Gently fold 1 1/4 cups of the blueberries into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Satter remaining blueberries over the batter and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with only moist crumbs attached. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and invert so that the blueberry-topped side is up. Serve in wedges, preferably with whipped cream.