I don’t have a Nonnie, let alone one who makes blueberry cake, but this bright, fluffy ring cake makes me wish I did! I’m not normally a big blueberry person, but this cake confirms that my favorite vehicle for eating them is via a coffee cake delivery system. In honor of National Blueberry Month (yes, really), Baked Sunday Mornings‘ recipe for this week from Baked Occasions is Nonnie’s Blueberry Buckle. I’ve never made a blueberry cake, nor a “buckle”, nor even a tube cake before (yes, really!), so this is just the latest example of stretching my baking horizons thanks to the fine gentlemen of BAKED. I purchased an angel food pan just for this cake, knowing there’s also an actual angel cake recipe in the book, and I’m glad I did, because I really liked the look of the squared-off cake shape compared to a rounded Bundt pan– I thought it might look strange to have the rounded side be the bottom of the cake, being that the flat side with the crumb topping must stay right-side up.
Anyway, regardless of your choice of cake pan, this is a pretty easy cake to pull together. However, I managed to come thisclose to ruining it in my overtired state while making the batter! I folded in the blueberries and smoothed the cake batter in the pan, and I thought, “The batter doesn’t seem that thick…” (the recipe says it will be), and then I looked over in horror to see that I had forgotten to mix in the last flour addition. I quickly transferred it back to the mixing bowl and folded in the flour by hand, so as not to destroy the blueberries with the mixer paddle. Although I had to wash and re-prep the tube pan, fortunately I didn’t notice it, say, after sprinkling on the topping, or halfway through baking! So, no harm done and lesson learned: do not bake when I can barely keep my eyes open….
You’ll start by beating the sugar, softened butter, and canola oil in a stand mixer. The recipe describes the mixture as “fluffy”– I wouldn’t exactly describe it that way. It’s pretty wet-looking, though it does look somewhat whipped. (In other words, it won’t look like your typical all-butter creamed mixture, because, well, it’s not all butter.) Add a whole egg and one yolk, followed by vanilla extract and lemon zest. I used vanilla bean paste because it’s a little more intense and I like the black flecks; the lemon really brightens up the batter without overtaking the blueberry flavor.
Next, mix in the dry ingredients (flour, cake flour, baking powder and soda, ground ginger, salt) alternating with a mixture of sour cream and heavy cream… And don’t forget the last flour addition! Then add the 4 cups of blueberries. The batter was, in fact, very thick with the right quantity of flour. 😉
Lastly, you’ll make the delicious, fragrant crumb topping. The instructions say to whisk together the dry ingredients (dark brown sugar, flour, cake flour, cinnamon), then pour in melted butter, and bring it together by squeezing it in your hands. At first I thought this method would be a big clumpy, greasy mess, but it actually worked perfectly. You’ll then pinch off bits and sprinkle them over the cake batter until the cake is covered and you use it all up.
My cake baked in 57 minutes, and I could have left it in for another 1-2, but it was fine. It doesn’t rise much, and you’ll know it’s approaching doneness when the intoxicating aroma of cinnamon takes over your kitchen!
The big test was unmolding the cake, of course. Since I’d never used a tube pan before, I wasn’t sure how cleanly this cake would release. I had put a ring of parchment on the bottom, as suggested in the book, and that helped it release very easily after loosening it from the sides of the pan with a small knife. I recommend using 2 large flexible spatulas underneath opposite sides of the cake to lift it up.
As advertised, this is absolutely comfort food– very similar to a coffee cake, with its fluffy crumb studded with juicy blueberries. Its soft texture contrasts with the pleasingly crunchy layer on top, and the cinnamon flavor works perfectly alongside the bright fruit and slightly tangy sour cream cake. (Use a gentle sawing motion to cut through it to avoid cake destruction.) I thought a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar would help to show the texture variation in the crumb topping. It truly is a hearty “grandma-style” cake, and it travels well to picnics and barbecues.
If your perfect summer blueberries are ready to go, visit Baked Sunday Mornings for the recipe for Nonnie’s Blueberry Buckle. While you’re there, see how the other BSMers fared with this one! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2015.