It’s blueberry season in Maine and time to make a blueberry cake.
You might have a perfectly good recipe that you’ve used for years. I do, and I put it in my cookbook, Maine Home Cooking, after having shared it with you here in Taste Buds. It has a streusel topping, all crunchy and sweet, and holds lots of berries. I’m not going to claim that that recipe is the only good one out there.
I was poking around in Marjorie Standish’s Cooking Down East where I found Melt-In-Your-Mouth Blueberry Cake. She reported in the headnote that she found this recipe in a Maine church cookbook, and wrote, “It is undoubtedly the most popular ever used in my column.”
Proof of her claim might very well be splattered all over the pages of my copy of her cookbook. The two pages before and after the blueberry cake recipe are unstained. While it occupies the same two pages as a Golden Cake recipe and Hot Milk Cake, I am willing to bet that the previous owner of Standish’s book most often turned to the blueberry cake recipe.
I thought it worth a try, and with the old favorite fresh in my memory, baked it up from blueberries gathered from a field up-island from me formerly harvested commercially back in the day and now tended by the current owner. I tried raking them, but we’ve had so much dry weather that most of the berries slipped between the tines. So I assumed a contemplative mode and handpicked.
Standish suggested “shortening,” which I changed to butter. Also, she recommended adding a quarter of a cup of sugar to the beaten egg whites. In really humid weather, it takes a lot of effort to beat egg whites stiff with that much sugar so I changed the quantity to two tablespoons, but if you wish, you can change it back.
Fresh berries are always better for cake. I figure that this cake is a height-of-summer recipe when the berries are ripe and ready (I save the frozen berries for lesser efforts like crisp). If frozen is all you have, flour them before adding.
You can sprinkle the top with plain granulated sugar; I used cinnamon sugar.
Gosh, it is good.
Marjorie Standish’s Melt-In-Your-Mouth Blueberry Cake
Makes one 9-inch square cake
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup or one stick of butter
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1½ cups fresh blueberries
Sugar or cinnamon sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a nine- or eight-inch square pan or line with parchment paper if you wish to turn it out.
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they are frothy. Then, very gradually add sugar and continue beating until they are stiff. Set aside.
Sift together the flour and baking powder.
Cream the butter and the three-quarters cup of sugar together.
Add the two egg yolks and beat.
Add the vanilla and salt and mix to incorporate.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk.
Fold in the beaten egg whites, then fold in the berries.
Put into the baking pan and spread the batter into the corners.
Sprinkle the top with sugar.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.