Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

As I have said many times, I get a lot of magazines.  They are split pretty evenly between food and mom magazines, which I think is totally normal for a single 30-year old woman with a weakness for cheap subscriptions to publications that trend towards crockpot recipes, “design on a dime” tips, and the occasional Jamie Lee Curtis interview.

Or in the case of the January 2012 issue of Woman’s Day, a Valerie Bertinelli interview…with recipes.

Nobody was more surprised than me to find myself thinking about one of Val’s favorite book group cakes (Blueberry Buttermilk) days after flipping through the issue, but I thought “Why fight it?” and made the darn cake.

And guess what?  It came out just like I dreamed it would.

Tangy buttermilk mixed with tons of frozen wild blueberries (since it’s January that was my best bet…) in a tender crumb makes for the perfect Sunday morning coffee treat.

Also, if sliced into 24 pieces, each slice clocks in at only 188 calories.

A classy cake like this would also be a jolly good choice for any of you out there looking for snacks to enjoy while you watch the premiere of season 2 of Downton Abbey this evening on PBS!  I have a feeling I will be enjoying a slice with a gin and tonic pot of tea while I roll my eyes at Mary and ponder O’Brien’s curly bangs.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Valerie Bertinelli in Woman’s Day Magazine (Oh Mylanta…)

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsps. baking soda
3/4 tsps. kosher salt
3 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsps. grated lemon zest
2 cups fresh blueberries or one 15-oz pkg frozen wild blueberries, thawed and drained
2 Tbsps.coarse sugar (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9-inch springform pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3 3/4 cups flour.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, buttermilk, sugar, oil, and zest.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet mixture until just combined – do not overmix.  There should be some lumps.
  • In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour.  Using a rubber spatula, fold all but 1/2 of the blueberries into the batter and smooth into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the reserved blueberries on top, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Bake for 70-75 minutes or until cake is brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the outer ring of the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Slice and serve!

Yield: 24 thin slices

Print Version

Banana Cherry Pecan Cake

Far too often I buy fresh fruit with every intention of eating it as a snack or on my cereal, but then I see that same fruit in the bowl a week later – soft, brown and sad.

In most cases this means a silent curse and a trip to the trash for the mealy apple or pear, but not so for the banana.  For the banana, there is a chance at redemption in the form of baked goods, which do better with overripe bananas.

This weekend I had a few (okay, five) overripe bananas on my counter, so I made it up to them by throwing three into the batter for this cake, which also has dried cherries and toasted pecans.  As you should know by now, I like my cakes dense, studded with nuts and dried fruit, and sans frosting.

This cake is dense and moist and not too sweet.  It would be fine with a cream cheese glaze or generous dusting of powdered sugar, but I left it as-is.  If it looks more like a slice of muffin, I won’t feel so bad when I eat it for breakfast all week.

I also know bananas and cherries aren’t very Christmassy, hence, the snowflake napkin.

See what I did there?  Instant holiday cheer.

Banana Cherry Pecan Cake
Adapted from Bundt Classics by Dorothy Dalquist (2003)

1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-12 cup Bundt or tube pan, or generously spray with baking cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the bananas, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to batter until combined.  Fold in the dried cherries and pecans.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, then bake for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Print Version

Chocolate Pistachio Bundt Cake

I recently had the pleasure of reading Bonny Wolf’s “Talking with My Mouth Full” – a collection of memoir-style food essays that she describes as “kitchen stories” on topics ranging from Jell-O, aprons, fair food, southern BBQ, latkes, and many more – all with a few recipes.  Bonny feels the exact same way about the significance of food as I do, and she expresses it in a way that makes me teary if it’s late and I have had a glass of wine.

We cook and eat for comfort, nurture, and companionship.  We cook and eat to mark the seasons and celebrate important events.  We cook and eat to connect with family and friends and with ancestors we never knew.  And through this baking and breaking bread together, we come to know who we are and where we came from. – Bonny Wolf 

In an early chapter, Wolf shares her fond memories of a universally loved Chocolate Pistachio Bundt Cake from her days as a young bride.  In true 1970’s form, the recipe is of the shortcut variety, taking advantage of mixes and chocolate syrup to help the baker assemble the cake quickly and with essentially guaranteed results. 

As the 20th century picked up speed, things like prepared foods, mixes, and frozen vegetables became an acceptable way to manage the demands of working wife and homemaker.  But then, as preservatives, trans-fats, and high fructose corn syrup became higher and higher on the ingredients list, “convenience food” fell out of fashion.  There is pressure today to do things all-homemade, all-organic, all of the time. 

When crunched for time, I will sometimes doctor up a cake mix, but then I apologize profusely for not having time to do it “all from scratch.”  Homemade is arguably better, but that doesn’t mean a little contextual love shouldn’t be aimed the cake mix’s way.  Items like mixes, syrups, flavorings, and pre-made pie crusts are an enormously important part of culinary history and deserve their occasional place on the cake plate.  Wolf made her 1970’s Chocolate Pistachio Bundt sound so delicious, I knew I had to make it and taste for myself.

Which is what brought me to these three darlings.  Hello Mix 1, Mix 2, and Bottle 3.

I tried to at least balance things out a little with the organic chocolate syrup. 

Well, as expected the cake was a snap to put together, and came out perfect.  I brought it into work, sifted some powdered sugar on top, and set it out in the kitchen.

I kid you not, the entire cake was gone in an hour, and my office isn’t that big.  One of my co-workers even told me it was her favorite thing I had ever brought it.  I said, “Well, that’s cake-mix-moistness for you!”

I actually said “moistness” and I wasn’t joking.  Who am I?!

I am someone who likes a good slice of cake mix-pudding mix-chocolate syrup Bundt cake from time to time.  No gooey frosting, no melting scoop of ice cream – just a sprinkling of powdered sugar on a cake so moist you could use it to finger paint.

Chocolate Pistachio Bundt Cake
Adapted from “Talking with My Mouth Full” by Bonny Wolf

1 box (18.5 oz.) yellow or white cake mix
1 box (3.5 oz.) pistachio instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 cup chocolate syrup
Powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a Bundt pan liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, orange juice, vegetable oil and almond extract. Mix together until smooth.
  • Transfer 1 cup of cake batter into a small bowl, then add the chocolate syrup.
  • Pour the pistachio cake mix batter into the Bundt pan, and then top with spoonfuls of the chocolate flavored batter. Using a knife, gently swirl the chocolate and pistachio cake mix batters together. Do not over mix!
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully turn onto a plate and top with sifted powdered sugar.

Print Version

Vanilla Pound Cake

My Great Auntie Anne recently asked me to make a cake for a family event, and then my sister Courtney narrowed it down further by requesting it be a pound cake.

It took me about thirty seconds of flipping through my “King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook” to decide that it would be Vanilla Pound Cake in a Bundt pan – simplicity at its absolute finest.

Also, we all know I just can’t resist a Bundt.

Keep Reading!

Blueberry Buckle

Can you guess what I love the most about Blueberry Buckle?

If you guessed the name itself…you are right.  I love foods with weird names.  Blueberry Buckle is allegedly called “buckle” because while it bakes the batter rises, but the berries and crumb topping weigh it down.  This causes the surface of the cake to buckle…hence the name.

Keep Reading!

Graham Cracker Pudding Cake

No special occasion in my family would be complete without my Nana Alice’s Pudding Pie, with its graham cracker crust and layers of vanilla pudding, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, and chocolate jimmies.  It is cold, creamy and delicious.

This Graham Cracker Pudding Cake pays humble homage to Pudding Pie.  Graham crackers line the bottom of a baking dish and are covered with pudding.  The layers are repeated until a final layer of graham crackers is covered in a smooth and shiny chocolate ganache icing.

Keep Reading!

Coconut Pineapple Loaf Cake

I didn’t find this Coconut Pineapple Loaf Cake recipe – it found me.  It knew I needed something with summery flavors.  It knew that I am ready to lose my mind with all of all of the snow we keep getting.  I don’t know what’s worse…how negatively it affects my bus commute (a 20 minute ride taking an hour and a half is just plain maddening) or how dirty and dingy it makes everything look in the city.  Depressing…

But it’s nothing a slice of this heavenly cake can’t help.  I have found that I quite enjoy a loaf cake.  They are frosting-less (yes!), portable, and a no-brainer to slice.

Keep Reading!