With the long July 4th weekend almost here, I’m certain many cooks are finalizing their menus for outdoor meals. Grilling, naturally, will take center stage, whether juicy burgers, marinated chicken, spice-rubbed steaks, barbecued ribs, or fresh fish fillets. Favorite potato or pasta salads and summer vegetables will be set on the table too. And then there is dessert. For this mid-summer holiday, I believe that there are two requirements. The chosen confection should be special, and it should feed a family generously with seconds. Blueberry Cake with Lemon Crème Fraîche meets both these criteria. I am crazy about this cake, and have offered the recipe for it on this blog more than once, and also included it in my latest book, Soup Nights.
Mary Webber, a talented cook in Northampton, shared the recipe with me years ago. The rich, moist cake is made with a classic batter of creamed sugar, butter, and eggs combined with flour and buttermilk. Blueberries, coated in flour so that they bake suspended in the batter, are folded in last, and the mixture spread in a large baking dish rather than in cake pans. When baked and golden, the cake is cut into portions and served with dollops of lemon-scented crème fraîche.
You can serve this delectable dessert warm or at room temperature. But here’s the best part: this cake can be cut into 12 generous portions, making it perfect for when your family is feeling indulgent and asking for seconds! Happy July 4th everyone!
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Blueberry Cake with Lemon Crème Fraiche
11 tbsp (one stick plus 3 tbsp) unsalted butter at room temperature plus more for the baking dish
3 cups all purpose flour plus more for the baking dish
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups blueberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Cinnamon for dusting
Lemon Crème Fraîche
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche (see market note)
4 tsp grated lemon zest
4 tsp sugar
Mint sprig for garnish, optional
1 Arrange a rack at the center position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9- by 13-in glass (such as pyrex) or ceramic baking dish.
2.For the cake, sift together 2 2/3 cup of the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. Rinse the blueberries in a large strainer and pat dry with paper towels. Dust the berries in the strainer with the remaining 1/3 cup flour, shaking off any excess flour.
3.With an electric mixer on medium high, cream the butter until it is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar in a thin stream and beat until blended into the butter, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low, and add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Beat in 2 lemon zest and the vanilla.
4.Remove from the mixer and fold in the blueberries. Spread the batter evenly in the baking pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean and the top of the cake is very lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and cool 10 minutes or longer. Cut into 12 portions. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. (The cake can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cool completely in the baking pan, then cover with plastic wrap and leave at cool room temperature.)
5. For the Lemon Crème Fraîche in a serving bowl whisk all the ingredients except the mint together. (Lemon Crème Fraîche can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.) Garnish the bowl with a mint sprig if you like.
6.To serve, dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar and with cinnamon. Cut into 12 portions, and serve each each with a generous spoonful of Lemon Crème Fraiche. Serves 12.
Market note: Crème fraîche is available in most supermarkets in the dairy section.
From Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom (Rizzoli 2016)