Joy of Baking

Blueberry buttermilk tea cake

By Lisa Yockelson
Globe Correspondent / July 14, 2010

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Makes one 9-inch loaf

Big handfuls of fresh blueberries belong in a buttery cake, tender with buttermilk. The dark blue rounds float in this vanilla-scented batter and create juicy pockets of flavor. Their taste seems to concentrate during baking. When blues are fresh and plump, with a beautiful silvery sheen, the little rounds retain their shape and offer a mosaic in each slice. On this cake, the finish is a simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar, but many loaves benefit from a glaze. To make one, beat 2 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla into 1 cup confectioners’ sugar just until smooth. Once the loaf is cool, spoon the glaze over it and let it stand until firm. A bowl of whipped cream might seem too extravagant for this loaf. Go ahead and beat cream into clouds. Summer blues only come around once a year.

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, picked over
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend them.

3. In another bowl, toss the blueberries with 1 teaspoon of the flour mixture.

4. In an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugar in two additions, beating for 1 minute after each. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

5. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.

6. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a large rubber spatula fold in the blueberries and any excess flour in the bowl.

7. Spoon the batter into the loaf pan, mounding it slightly in the center. Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake is clean when withdrawn.

8. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and return the cake to the rack to cool. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into slices with a serrated knife.

Lisa Yockelson