Blueberry Cake (or not)

As made with fresh blueberries and cherries

For me, dessert is a surface phenomena.  I like flat, low crèmes brûlées (more caramelized crust), baked apple tartes over thicker pies, and the smallest mini-cannolis (please).  Save the triple-layer cake for someone else.

My blueberry favorite from my mother’s considerable dessert repertoire has always been what, in my childhood, was so legendary we simply called it “The Blueberry Cake”.  Just an inch or so tall, the cake is not a quite a cobbler, a clafoutis, or a proper streusel — though it involves elements of all of these.  Modest in appearance, and easy to make, the taste never fails to dazzle.  The cake aroma reminds one, rather strikingly, of blueberry pancakes.   Fresh summer cherries can be used in combination with the blueberries.  Renegade readers might even make an all-cherry version.

A well-known food editor (and good friend) argues that this is not really a cake at all:  at an inch or so in height it’s too short, and the “cake” is made in a jelly roll pan, which did not help its case.  Sizes of jelly roll pans, by the way, can vary maddeningly from 15 x 10 x ½ inches up to 16 x 10 x 1 ¼ inches.  If you have a smaller pan, just (sadly) retain a bit of the batter.  You should have at least ¼ inch of space at the top before baking.

The presentation of the recipe below is a compromise forced by the currently-clunky tools available to support Google’s new “rich snippets” for recipe writers.  If only Google understood the need for undefined quantities: you need some extra butter and flour (for the pan).

Recipe: Blueberry “Cake”

Summary: Too short, maybe. But too good to resist.


  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 pints fresh blueberries
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract


  1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a jelly roll pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the streusel ingredients until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
  3. In a second bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer, then beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, a bit at a time, until fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour the batter into the jelly roll pan.
  6. Put the blueberries in now-empty mixing bowl, and swish them around until they are lightly coated with residual batter (this helps prevent the blueberries from sinking in the pan). Scatter the blueberries evenly over the batter in the pan.
  7. Scatter the struesel evenly over the batter in the pan.
  8. Bake at 350ºF for 30 – 35 minutes.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Note to baker: The cake will have an even surface, the streusel-like component semi-blends into the cake.


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