Monday, May 15, 2006
Blueberry Molasses Cake
I love this cake. I mean, I REALLY love this cake. I love this cake so much that when I was about 10, I asked my mother to make it for my birthday, and its been my birthday cake ever since.
When I was a kid, my parents owned a little country inn on Lake Sunapee in NH. That inn, Clearwater Inn, had a little dining room which served all three meals for the guests, and then later, just breakfast and dinner - family style dinner. After a few years, we became known for our excellent food.
There was a little Episcopal church down the street on Lake Ave which had a plethora of blueberries every year, and I used to sneak down there during the week when there was no one around and devour as many blueberries as I could stuff in my little mouth. I simply ADORE blueberries. Anyway, sometimes I'd bring some blueberries home to my grandmother who cooked the evening meal for the guests until I was 9, and she would make this cake. She loved this cake as well, and developed the recipe during the Depression when the government would give them molasses, flour and lots of dried fruit. My mom used to talk about waking up to the aroma of this delicious and filling cake, and how much they all loved it. But my grandmother loved it best with fresh blueberries. So do I.
Last summer, our friend (and Elisabeth's adopted grandmother) Dorothy gave us a couple of pounds of freshly picked, frozen blueberries, and we looked at each other and said: Blueberry cake! But in September when it was time for my birthday, my 50th, the first birthday without my mother, I told Elisabeth that I just didn't have the heart to make my own blueberry cake and maybe it was time for a new tradition. The blueberries remained in the freezer.
So, yesterday afternoon, on Mother's Day, I took a luxurious nap on the sofa....and awoke to the aroma of freshly baked molasses blueberry cake. Don't I have the sweetest kid in the world? This is the first cake of any kind that she has ever made! A new tradition has been born!
Grammies Molasses Blueberry Cake
2 C flour
1/2 shortening (can use butter)
1/2 C molasses
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 C sugar
1/2 C milk
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pint blueberries
Cream the shortening. Add the egg, sugar, vanilla, salt and molasses. Mix the baking powder with the flour. Alternately beat in the flour and milk until you have thick batter. Resist the urge to add more milk. Fold in the blueberries. Turn out into a well greased and floured 8x8 pan. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
This is great plain or with cream cheese frosting: 6 oz room temperature cream cheese, 3 C confectioner's sugar plus 1 tsp vanilla, beaten well, and spread on the cooled cake.
Happy Mother's Day!
Notes: This is not a particularly sweet cake - the blueberries add a juicy burst of sweetness in every bite. If you add the cream cheese frosting, which is delicious, then you will have a more traditionally sweet dessert cake, but I like it best just plain, or maybe with a sprinkling of confectioners sugar on the top. Dear daughter made this in a small pyrex oval-shaped roaster, and I thought it looked so very pretty in that shape.
You can use the fruit of your choice, but it should definitely be something sweet and it should be a fruit that won't "weep" too much, or the delicate balance of wet ingredients to dry ingredients will be upset - dry fruit is great, as are apples, pears, sweet Italian plums, and other berries.
The flavor of the molasses is very important, so do try to buy a good quality molasses, and for best nutrition, use unsulphered molasses.