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Saturday, 3 September 2011

Blueberry Cake

One of the local potato farmers keeps a couple of fields in low bush blueberries. These are the true Nordic blueberries, about the size of a large pea, that are either handpicked or hand-raked with something like a cranberry scoop. There is no easy mechanized way to pick low bush blueberries, so they are a labour intensive crop. Equally, though, they are a low maintenance crop, and the bushes last for years, preferring our acidic soil. I didn't hand pick this year, which would mean each pound would have cost $1.35; I bought picked berries at five pounds for $16. That is still a bargain considering what berries cost in the supermarket.

I had made a blueberry grunt previously, but I found the biscuit dough could have been sweeter, and I should have used more berries. It was good, but not the best showcase for the beautiful berries. My mother used to make what she called a "buckle" with any fresh berry we happened to pick. A buckle is, essentially, a white cake with berries folded into the batter. Sometimes it has a crumb topping, but I prefer just a sprinkle of sugar instead.

Equipment: Cake pan, either 9" round or 9" square, mixing bowl, electric hand mixer or pastry blender and wooden spoon.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup butter; 3/4 cup white sugar; 2 eggs; 1 1/2 cups white flour; 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon baking soda;1 cup milk; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; one cup or more of blueberries, fresh or frozen.

Directions: Let the butter soften at room temperature, then cream it with the sugar, using either the mixer or the pastry blender. Beat in the eggs. (You will switch to the spoon if you are doing this by hand.) Sift or stir the cream of tartar and the baking soda into the flour, add about half of the flour mixture, stir; then the milk, and finish with the rest of the flour. Add the vanilla last. Beat it until it is almost smooth, but don't over beat. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula or spoon, gently mixing into the batter.

Butter and flour the cake pan, pour the batter in, and smooth it a bit on the top. Have the oven preheated to 350F, bake for about 45 minutes, but I'd test it after 30 minutes just to see how done it is getting. About ten minutes before removing from the oven, sift some ordinary white sugar on the top.

This is good warm, with whipped cream or ice cream, but we eat it plain. It will keep a couple of days. It is relatively low in sugar for a cake dessert, since there is no frosting. Don't try to substitute cooking oil for the butter, or it will be flat. It makes at least eight servings, so I'm not going to say it is low in fat!

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