Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake
MUSIC PAIRING: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Definitive Collection
So, I’ve already talked to you about Joy. I don’t want you to be disappointed in me but…I cheat on Joy. Regularly. In fact, I cheat on her with my first love so doesn’t that redeem me just a little?! Let’s talk about Deb.
Much like Joy, everyone in the food blogging world knows Deb. She’s behind the beloved Smitten Kitchen blog which is literally my favorite place on the internet to visit. I’ve followed Deb for years and I feel like we’re friends. That feeling is basically what I aspire to build here in my little space for folks who drop by! I think Deb is a great example of practical knowledge mixed with passionate ambition. She’s a home cook who has a stubborn streak that doesn’t allow her to settle. She’ll tweak a recipe ten times if she has to in order to get it where she wants it to be. I think it’s inspirational because while of course she wants her recipes to be great for everyone, she stands by what she feels is best and I think that’s courageous.
When I learned that she was coming out with her first cookbook in 2012, I about lost it. Is it weird that I was more excited about that than my own graduation from culinary school? I’ve never made a recipe of Deb’s that hasn’t been fantastic. Yes, I put my own spin on things but as a whole, her recipes are wonderful just as they are. Her gorgeous book is a lovely extension of who you see on her site and I’m so thrilled to have it in my collection.
I grew up in Marietta, GA on the kind of street where nobody locked their doors and the kids knew it was time to go home when the streetlights came on. I don’t think I’ve assigned proper value to how special that is. I briefly mentioned Grace once before. She and I lived across the street from each other and our parents tell us we met when we were two. Growing up, I have the best memories of spending time at Grace’s house. From cookie decorating to dance parties to finger painting with pudding (which I ate more of than I did paint with), I was part of their family. Grace and I are dear friends to this day and when she asked about coming to visit as her last ‘hoorah’ before becoming a mom for the first time, there was no hesitation.
Brunch is Grace’s favorite meal. Being that she was arriving late morning, I wanted to make her a treat that would be acceptable at breakfast or lunch. Back when I’d read through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I’d mentally filed away a recipe that I knew would be just perfect for Grace: blueberry cornmeal butter cake.
This recipe is exactly my kind of sweet. It’s buttery, textured and bright with fresh, lemony blueberries which make eating dessert in summer perfectly acceptable; bathing suits be damned.
As a side note to encourage my fellow non-bakers who are doing their best in the world o’ sugar, this cake is so simple and even holds up when it catches on fire. Win! I contemplated sharing this photo with you guys and then thought yes, of course I’m sharing it because this is real life.
I tried to broil the top to get the streusel super golden but I quickly learned that sugar and fire DO mix. A little too well. Whoops! As you can see though, everything turned out just fine once I cut the burnt layer right off. Grace never even knew the difference. Hopefully, baby Selah didn’t either.
Why Smokey Robinson? As I’d mentioned, dance parties were a big part of my sleepovers at Grace’s house. One of my favorite things in the world used to be putting on her dad’s records which to this day, I cannot believe he trusted us children with. I would blare ‘tracks of my tears’ and whenever I hear that song – or Smokey Robinson at all – I’m transported right back to being 7 years old and singing for all to hear. Now, that’s joy.
Recipe barely adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for pan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one lemon
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of table salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment, then butter and flour the bottom and sides.
- Combine the blueberries, fresh lemon juice and pinch of sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add the vanilla and lemon zest. Add a third of the flour mixture, all of the sour cream and another third of the flour beating until just blended after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix the remaining third of the flour mixture with the blueberries. Fold the floured blueberry mixture gently into the cake batter.
- Spread the cake batter in the prepared pan. Use your original dry ingredients bowl to combine the streusel ingredients with a fork or your fingertips. Scatter the topping over the cake batter.
- Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for five minutes. Run a spatula or knife around the edges to loosen the cake, then flip onto a cooling rack.
- If you're anything like me, there's never enough butter, even for a butter cake. This treat is lovely toasted the next day with a big slab of salted butter.