Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blueberry Cake with Nutmeg Cream

A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood. – Charlotte Kasl 

Memories, like the corners of my mind... Misty, water-coloured memories...

This post is about memories as much as it is about a recipe. Old memories of mine, and hopefully some you can make for your family – all wrapped in a fluffy cake studded with blueberries.

The wild blueberries are in mid season here in Nova Scotia. That puts them about a week or  little more ahead of usual, if my calculations are correct. Prime foraging time.

I have found a “secret” spot, besides our backyard, where the picking is easy, if a little sun-drenched. They’re in a memory-charged spot (for me) in the village. So as I picked I did a little “reminiscing” of good times and bad that have passed, never to return. A melancholic picking, to say the least. But there’s not much more to do when you are picking them except think.

On Monday when I went a-harvestin’ the temperature had to be in the mid 30°C. Thinking of friends, school days and ball games kept me a little distracted from the heat. Luckily, the berries were plentiful so I was only there for about 1/2 hour. Any longer and my memories may have turned into delirium!

There’s nothing much more daunting than hearing those first few berries plop in the bottom of your container. It feels at the time like you’ll be there forever. If you’ve ever picked your own wild blueberries you probably will sympathize. 

But it’s like nearly every other task. Most jobs look far worse before you start than when you’re done. I have to remember that, too.

If you do have the chance to either pick, or purchase, wild blueberries, this recipe is one you really should make at least once this season. It only takes two cups of the delicious little darlings. A mere “drop in the bucket” – literally.

This blueberry cake – or very similar – is an old favourite around rural Nova Scotia. I can remember my mother making this as far back as when I was 4 or 5 years old. So I guess you could call it an old Maritime recipe.

Fluffy, fluffy batter. I DARE you to not lick the spatula.
Essentially it’s a white butter cake with a spiced sugar top that has the addition of blueberries. It’s very simple to put together.

But it’s an addition after it’s baked that makes this dessert so special. A nutmeg-spiced light cream (or milk) sauce is poured over the top. It sinks into the cake giving everything a moist richness and spicy taste that is amazing.

It’s not to say that this cake can’t stand on its own, sans sauce. It’s perfect that way as well. Or even serve it with vanilla or grapenut ice cream. For the short length of time it takes to throw it together, your time investment is returned ten-fold.

This cake, for the size of it (8” x 8” square pan), has a lot of berries, so don’t be fooled by a cake tester coming out nearly clean at around 45 minutes. If you go down through berries when you test for doneness you may get a false positive.

You will need the full time, or close to it depending on your particular oven, for the centre to be done. It will probably puff up, but will settle back down flat after it cools.

This cake always makes me have homey thoughts. I guess it’s because its so closely tied to mom, hearth and growing up in the country. Simpler times, or at least those water-coloured memories make it seem that way.

If you want to know what nostalgia tastes like try this cake. You may even cultivate some fond memories in your own family.

The cake will rise nicely above the pan.
Blueberry Cake with Nutmeg Cream
Prep: 10 min  |  Bake: 1 hr  |  Serves 9 or 16
2 cups wild blueberries
2 tbsp flour
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup light cream*
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp white sugar, mixed with 1/2 tsp nutmeg
for the sauce
2 cups cereal cream*
2 tbsp sugar
1-1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter an 8” x 8” baking dish. Wash the blueberries, shake dry and toss the berries with 2 tbsp of flour in a small bowl. Set both the baking dish and blueberries aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the milk, baking powder, vanilla and salt and beat well. Beat in the flour a little at a time until all is incorporated. then stir in the coated blueberries, with any additional flour that may not have stuck.

Pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the top with the sugar and nutmeg. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the centre.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan. While the cake is cooling, whisk together the cream, sugar and nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve squares of the cake in small dishes with the nutmeg cream poured over the top.

* Mom always used to use whole milk, but I find the cream just adds a little more to it.


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