May 21, 2018
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Molasses and blueberries together at last: What could be more Maine?

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Sandy Oliver Special to the News, Special to the BDN

Quick, before they are all gone, get some blueberries. They are early this year, along with everything else. You will want some to use in this Blueberry Molasses Cake recipe that Ethel Pochocki of Brooks sent me last summer. She got it about 30 years ago from a neighbor named Virginia Gray.

Ethel reported that it has become one of her family favorites, and she wrote, “Simple and doesn’t need frosting, but whipped cream makes it even more delicious.” No surprise there.

Mainers love their blueberries, and they also love their molasses. I looked in the diary of Augusta midwife Martha Ballard to see what she said about blueberries. She didn’t have much to say at all. There was one reference: On July 26, 1786, she wrote, “Girls went to pique Blue berries.” It sounds like the young people in the house went off to spend some time outdoors, doing something useful and possibly fun, too. Martha was too busy herself to spend time on that project.

We’ve used lots more molasses over the centuries in Maine than more prosperous folks from southern New England. You might find that the molasses overwhelms the berries’ flavor, but I like the combination very much.

The recipe says to use your choice of three spices. I tried a ½ teaspoon of each and it was fine. If you like one more than the other, you could use more of it. You can leave one out, too. A scant cup of flour is merely a cup with some knocked out. I’ve seen this written sometimes as one cup with a tablespoon removed.

The directions, which call for adding the hot water then the flour, sound like it will make a mess, but it works just fine. The pan is not very full when you put the batter in it, and the cake rises to come out an 1½ to 2 inches thick. You can use frozen berries in this recipe as well as fresh, though fresh are better. This was very easy to knock together and rich and delicious.

Looking for … salsa recipes. If this keeps up we actually will get ripe tomatoes at our house, and I would welcome some salsa recipes from you to try out.

Send them to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Rd., Islesboro 04848 or to


Virginia Gray’s Blueberry Molasses Cake

2/3 cup molasses

1 cup sugar

½ cup canola or vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup boiling water

2 ½ cups flour, scant

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon each of your choice of spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

1 cup blueberries, lightly floured

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a nine by thirteen inch pan. Mix together the molasses, sugar, oil, and egg. Sift the flour with the baking soda and spice. Add the boiling water, then mix in the flour and spices. Add the blueberries last. Bake for 30 minutes.

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