Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sweet Weekend Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

There are weeks (or months, or years, god help us) when it seems we can't find a single moment to catch our breath. The bills pile up, emails pile up, laundry piles up. Spiders make their homes in the neglected far corners of our bookshelves, our cars go unwashed and pass their oil change mark by double. The paper goes unread, the lounge chair cries out for company and the dog gives you a look like he's counting how many games of fetch you owe him.

But inevitably, a weekend stretch will come along, a long deep sigh of a weekend, with no obligations, no place in particular to be. The washer and dryer buzz along as your husband sorts out the garage. And suddenly you look up and the swirl of last week has settled and life has come back into focus. Your pulse slows to a more reasonable rate, you begin to taste your food, savor each moment of the day, letting time pass over you and under you and through you instead of right by you.

I'm having one of those weekends. We stayed in bed until 10:30, without uttering a single word of what we were planning on doing that day, because Plan has become an evil, ugly word. I sat at the kitchen table and watched as my husband made me perfect eggs, and I licked my fingers in ecstasy after slowly chewing every bite in prolonged bliss. After weeks of Plans, suddenly a late breakfast in my pajamas with my husband at my own kitchen table feels like Indulgence. And as the day passed -- the drizzle outside giving us permission to move slowly -- I looked up at the clock and was surprised to see how kind Time was being to us, generously following our pace, instead of expecting us to keep up with it.

And I'm thinking of all of this, because of a cake. A Blueberry Buttermilk Cake, which is the kind of cake that tastes so good it will force you to slow down and enjoy it. A world of Plans can spin outside your door as you sit at your quiet table with this light, perfect hug of a cake. The top forms a tender, sugary crust with bursts of fresh blueberries, and the crumb is delicate without being unsubstantial, and moist from the generous buttermilk. It's not too sweet, not too dense, not too rich. It is gentle. It coddles you a bit, reminding you how good life is when you stop to appreciate it.

You can have this for breakfast or as dessert; it is a perfect Sunday morning to Sunday evening cake -- and pairs especially well with a certain neglected lounge chair. It also would be perfect for 4th of July, with it's blue pocked top like a patriotic firework.

It's also so easy to make (about ten minutes to assemble) that you can make it on those weekends when time is less kind to you. And maybe that's when you deserve a cake like this the most.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Gourmet

The original recipe calls for raspberries, but I was craving those plump blueberries. Any berry will do, however strawberries will likely be too moist for this cake.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon salt
stick unsalted butter, softened
cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
large egg
cup well-shaken buttermilk
cup fresh raspberries (about 5 oz)

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

Yields 6 servings, and comfort.


  1. It sounds like a beautiful morning and a delicious cake. I am envious. At least I can make the cake ;)

  2. that cake looks spectacular!

  3. I totally understand where you're coming from! And as luck would have it, I too am having a slow down drizzling outside type morning... Cake looks fabulous :)

  4. One of the things I miss most from my pre-kids life is those kinds of days. Waking up late and just letting the day take you wherever. We are up early and running our boys!

  5. Nothing better than a beautiful, easy, deliciously no-plan cake. Lovely!

  6. that looks so good! the perfect thing to have with afternoon tea. thanks for the recipe.

  7. hello! I am a Uk based fan of your lovely blog, and this is the first one of your posts that i have had a go at making and it was YUM!!! Made with raspberries. Delicious! Thank you!

  8. Ooh! A cake I can have for breakfast, sounds like it has my name all over it, especially with the buttermilk!

  9. This is in my oven- along with some great suasage- this is our 4th of July pre-parade breakfast!!!!

    It smells fantastic!!!!!

  10. what a breath of fresh air to read your blog! Just reading it made me relax and enjoy the moment. I just might double the recipe and spread the joy! Lorraine