When the weather starts getting warmer, I start craving lighter desserts. Sure, chocolate never goes out of season, but when the thermometer rises above ninety-degrees, I don’t feel like indulging in bread pudding, or big, dense brownies.
This past weekend, I was craving a dessert that incorporated blueberries. It’s still a little early for blueberries in Missouri, and the berry of choice seems to be the strawberry. However, there was a two for $6 deal on California blueberries at the market, and leftover lemons in my house from lemonade-making. I was also getting tired of the standard bowl of cereal for breakfast, so I decided to make Lemon-Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake.
I’ve said before that I know that something will come out well if the batter tastes good. I know this is probably a bit of an overstatement, as cookies can come out of the oven scorched, cakes can be under-baked, and pies can fall apart after the first slice. But honestly speaking, mistakes or baking crises aside, the batter is probably the best indicator of success. I knew the cake would be good when I tasted the butter and eggs mixed with lemon zest, and then after I folded the berries into the buttermilk batter…It tasted a little like a blueberry pancake, except for less dense, a bit sweeter, and with much more zest.
The recipe warned that the cake might need to bake for more than the alloted 35 minutes, but I found that it was the perfect amount of time (for once…most times I bake I have to leave things in for ten or fifteen more minutes than the recipe called for). The cake was light and fluffy, the blueberries were warm and juicy, and the lemon zest was the perfect compliment to the berries. The best part? The top of the cake, which was slightly flaky and a bit crispy: a mix of buttery-sugary goodness.
Really, I can’t say enough good things about this cake. It was the perfect diversion from my usual breakfast routine, and could even be enjoyed with some creme fraiche and berries for a light dessert.
Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake (slightly adapted from here)
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk
* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour (1 cup plus 3/4 cup), baking powder and salt.
3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.
4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. The toothpick (or knife or fork) should come out clean (with barely any crumbs or cake). If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.