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Cynthia Stone: Bluer berries

Blueberry honey cake really deserves to pair with vanilla custard sauce.
Blueberry honey cake really deserves to pair with vanilla custard sauce.

I thought one blueberry column would do it this season but two things happened.

First, you kept asking for more recipes. Second, a kind-hearted friend dropped by with a bag of gorgeous berries.

Blueberry honey cake — golden brown and fresh from the oven

Blueberry Honey Cake with Vanilla Custard Sauce

If you don’t love the taste of honey skip this recipe. There aren’t many flavors to compete — not even vanilla — so it’s all about the blueberries and the honey, and what a wonderful marriage they make.

Any liquid honey will work but I splurged on a dark, unpasteurized in-your-face variety with a bold flavor that really stands out in this cake. The only other flavoring is nutmeg so, if you can, please grate it freshly, just before adding.

Serve warm as a brunch cake — it’s quick to bake — or with the topping of your choice for dessert. My choice was vanilla sauce and a handful of fresh berries.

Blueberry Honey Cake:

½ cup liquid honey, any type you like

½ cup soft unsalted butter

3 eggs

1-½ cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated if possible

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup plain yogurt, low-fat works but not fat free

1-½ cups blueberries

Vanilla Custard Sauce:

1-1/2 cups whole milk, divided

2 tsp. cornstarch

4 tsp. sugar

3 egg yolks

2 tsp. best quality vanilla

For the cake, warm the honey over low heat or in a microwave until hot but not boiling. Beat on high speed until it is creamy and allow to cool to room temperature. Beat in the butter until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.

Set aside 2 tsp. of the flour to dredge the berries.

Whisk together remaining flour, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half the flour mixture into honey mixture, stirring until there are no streaks. Stir in yogurt then remaining dry ingredients.

Toss blueberries with 2 tsp. reserved flour to coat thoroughly. Fold into batter. Spoon into a greased and floured 9-inch baking dish and bake at 350 F 45 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean and the edges start to pull away from the pan.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

For the custard sauce, whisk together 3 tbsp. of the milk, cornstarch, sugar and egg yolks. Whisking vigorously, add a splash of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture. Stir the warmed egg yolk mixture into the milk in the pot and bring slowly back to a boil. Allow to bubble a few seconds, until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allowing it to touch the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Blueberry Fool

A fool is an old English dessert of fruit and cream. The first version I have when I’m in possession of fresh blueberries is a bowl of berries topped with a dollop of ice cold canned cream. After that I dress things up a bit with this fancier version, fit for a late summer party.

Limoncello is a delicious Italian liqueur and it finds its way into many recipes in my kitchen. If you don’t want to buy a bottle just leave it out and increase the lemon juice by a spoonful or so.

This amount serves four generously but make a pot of jam and use as much as you like for this treat.

1-½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries

7 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

1 large strip lemon peel, yellow part only

1 tbsp. cold water

2 tbsp. limoncello liqueur, optional

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup whipping cream

1 tsp. best quality vanilla

Combine blueberries, 6 tbsp. of the sugar, lemon peel and cold water in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring often, until berries have burst and mixture is starting to thicken. Add liqueur and lemon juice and cook another 5 minutes. Discard the peel, pour onto a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Beat whipping cream with remaining 1 tbsp. of sugar and vanilla until firm but soft peaks form.

Swirl cooled cooked berries and cream together and spoon into cold glasses to serve. Don’t overmix — you don’t want blue whipped cream but rather large swaths of rich jam through the snow-white cream.

 

Cynthia Stone is an information manager and writer in St. John’s. E-mail questions to her at cynthia.stone@nf.sympatico.ca.

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