Old-Fashioned Blueberry Cake Recipe

An old-fashioned blueberry cake sweetened with molasses adapted from a reader submitted recipe to the July 1974 issue of Gourmet Magazine - rustic, dark as chocolate, tender, and punctuated with lots of tiny pockets of oozy, magenta berry flesh.

Old-Fashioned Blueberry Cake

This inspiration for today's recipe came from a July 1974 issue of Gourmet Magazine. I sometimes come across vintage piles of Gourmet at yard sales, or on eBay, and can't help but buy them. This particular issue featured a lake-side picnic setting on the cover and originally cost seventy-five cents. On page two there was an old-fashioned blueberry cake recipe submitted by reader Patricia Michaelson that caught my attention. It was a simple cake sweetened with blueberries and molasses. That's it. Many cakes use a cup or two of sugar, so I was intrigued and curious...and a touch skeptical. And butter? Not much at all - also peculiar. The resulting cake was rustic, dark as chocolate, tender, punctuated with lots of tiny pockets of oozy berry flesh, and flavored with a dramatic molasses undercurrent.

blueberry cake recipe

I made a few changes to the original recipe, and rewrote it from the ground up for you. It is important to use the right type of molasses - unsulphered, preferably organic. I'll link to the brand I buy most often here, and in the ingredient list. If you aren't sure, taste your molasses - it should taste good. Strong but good. And while we're on the topic, it should be said, if you aren't a fan of molasses, this cake isn't for you. The molasses and blueberry flavors melded together beautifully in a not-too-sweet, sophisticated way - but I quite like molasses. On the berry front, use the sweetest berries you can get your hands on. If you come across great berries, stock up. A lot of times I'll buy fresh berries, set aside some to eat, and then freeze the rest (to use in a cake list this). And one last note - although I dusted the top of the cake this time with powdered sugar, I think the way to go next time is with a big dollop of sweetened freshly whipped cream (or both!).

Thank you Patricia Michaelson of Scituate, Massachusetts. We very much enjoyed your cake, and I look forward to making it again soon.

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Old-Fashioned Blueberry Cake Recipe

For those of you who want to use a whole grain flour here, I think I'd start by trying a 50/50 blend - half whole wheat pastry flour, half unbleached all-purpose flour. If you have a very fine, powdery soft whole wheat pastry flour, you might be able to get away with using it for 100% of the flour, but some of the whole wheat pastry flour has ragged, rustic texture that might be a problem here.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
5 tablespoons milk (divided)
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, barely melted

1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen (I freeze fresh berries)
1 teaspoon flour

Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar (optional), or a big dollop of sweetened freshly whipped cream

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan (or equivalent).

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl whisk together the cider vinegar with 3 tablespoons of the milk. In another bowl whisk the molasses with the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk the cider vinegar mixture into the molasses mixture, then whisk in the eggs.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just barely combined. Stir in the butter. Toss the blueberries with 1 teaspoon of flour and fold them into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about thirty minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, or with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. We just enjoyed this cake served straight out of the pan, but you can turn it out if you like.

Serves 8 - 10.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 30 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I made this last week and was looking forward to having it for desert. However, I could not get the cake to set in the middle. It stayed gooey as if it was never in the oven. I went over the recipe to see if I missed anything and I did not. Any ideas? HS: Hmm. That doesn't sound right. You might want to check on your oven temp? To make sure it is running hot enough. I think I'd start there.


I cut it in half, used all white WW flour (King Arthur) and didn't have cider vinegar, so ended up using an old, syrupy balsamic instead. Not sure what this might have done to the flavor. If sour is the goal, maybe plain yogurt would be a good sub for the milk/vinegar mixture. Oh, and I put it in a cupcake/muffin tin and baked for 20 minutes. It came out fine -- very moist from the fruit, not too sweet, so it was good to serve as muffins instead of a dessert. I would definitely serve with whipped cream if I did this again, and I'm excited to try it with fall fruit (apples, pears?) and pumpkin pie spices later.

Slapdash Cook

Oh my god. This is the best recipe in the world. I made it with some fresh whipped cream.... so good.. thank you!


Made this cake and d'oh! Put in an extra egg. So I wound up doubling the batter to fix it. Still came out good, spread between two cake pans, but are all the blueberries supposed to fall to the bottom? I was careful to evenly distribute the batter in the two cake pans. But what I got was a nice molasses cake with a layer of blueberry goodness at the bottom - not throughout the cake . . . I thought that looked wrong? Anyone have this result, or is it supposed to be like that?


Just made this cake today, subbed in Swedish "Dark Syrup" - kinda of a beet based baking syrup, you can get it at Ikea, because I realized the molasses I had was blackstrap, and it didn't mix in well at all. And it was fantastic! A big hit at the party.


Well the cake I made was a complete flop but made additional humor for our dinner party. It was my husband and my Mom and Dad, and did they all give me the business. I followed the recipe as written. Tested the cake in four different places for doneness. Let cool while we had dinner. What a disaster. But what fun! And of course it was delicious. Just not pretty!


What a great recipe for a unique cake! I made it today and just love it (might eat the whole thing before hubby comes home!) I did do a few substitutions based on what was in my pantry: Egg Replacer (powder form) instead of eggs 100% whole wheat flour that is used to make the Indian flatbread Roti. It is stone ground and extremely fine and feels and looks like a hybrid (white and whole wheat) but it isn't. I also used fresh blueberries because they were kinda on their last leg in my fridge... The cake turned out extremely moist and it's delicious! Thanks for sharing!


My two cents -- made this over the long weekend -- and thought it to be a perfectly delicious and understated everyday cake, simple & classy, like a well-tailored much-loved navy blue suit. The one drawback to eating it came with leaving it on the counter to consume over the course of the week -- the fruit inevitably spoiled after a few days. I like the above comment suggesting the recipe's greatness in muffin form. Will enjoy trying that sometime this fall.


Very interesting recipe: did add some sweet pudding spices as someone suggested as I felt in keeping with gingerbread in UK.Found it became moister with keeping (as did traditional gingerbreads and yorkshire parkins)..the blueberries then having doing their moistening bit.My mother had a wartime no- egg date loaf cake recipe with similar economy..a family favourite still.(This uses black treacle.) Love your site, thank you.


Okay, I made it exactly as written, and it was FANTASTIC. Next time, I'm subbing peaches and adding ginger, and I think it may just be the recipe that wins my husband over to peaches. Thanks for the recipe! Hope you have a blast in Paris, and that the African bracelet men don't get you! :)


I made this cake using all WW pastry flour. The molasses did overpower the blueberries a bit, but we all loved it with fresh whipped cream. Next time, I might sub another sweetener for half the molasses. The kids gobbled it up and asked for more!


I made this cake yesterday...wonderful! I used 1/2 AP flour and 1/2 stone ground Whole Wheat. Lightly sweetened and very dense a little goes a long way. Whipped cream is a purrrfect topping for this. The cake cooks very dark, don't worry it's great. Thank you Heidi


I tried this and wanted to cry. Hormones partially responsible but the cake not working out played a major role. I know better than to make a new recipe for a social event but somehow this rule failed to come to light in time. The bottom was so wet from blueberries the cake fell apart when i tried to remove from my only cake pans (walmart-style metal cake pans w/out slider arm). Had to use 8-in b/c they were the only ones available to me. Cooked it 15 minutes longer to try and dry it out a bit but still too wet. Everyone tried to tell me it was good, but i really dont think this turned out the way it was supposed to turn out.


Made the cake but threw it away. Wanted to like it but the molasses was overpowering (in my opinion) and could not taste the blueberries at all. It was moist, but that wasn't enough to save it. Sorry.


Wow Sweet! im so going to try this i'll ask my maid to give me b in b and serve some blueb cake and a hot latte mmm... i can just imagine (: thanks for the recipe! MissyVoltera.x.

MissyVoltera.x. im a secret(;

My rule is: never make the same thing twice. Too many recipes, too little time. But after tasting this cake tonight I'm breaking my rule. It's delicious!. I did use 1/2 unbleached white and 1/2 whole grain pastry flour. It worked beautifully; and I found it to be good without the powdered sugar and cream topping --- but I may add a dollop of yogurt, cottage or ricotta cheese mixed with a little minced fresh herb [dill?] when I have another slice for breakfast.


I made this today....and it's SOOOO good! My only changes were that I used regular bleached flour and the berries were the frozen bagged kind. I also got a bit confused with the directions "stir until just barely combined" followed by "stir in the butter". Was I supposed to stir in the butter until it too was just barely combined? So I opted for stirring it all until well blended. And I did top with freshly whipped cream. This is definitely one to be repeated again and again. :)


What a great looking recipe. I thought it looked like chocolate cake as well. Great new way to use all the blueberries we've been buying lately.


looks delicious, Iwill try this one soon! karen


wow that delicious blueberry cake, i must try it. thanks. can i combined with other berry? HS: Sure!

strawberry dessert

I made the baked doughnuts recipe and since it was so long ago that the recipe went up- i was unable to comment but I just wanted to say that I think I over-worked the dough by letting it sit overnight, but they turned out wonderful! the simple cinnamon sugar dusting was a perfect ending. I also made this recipe and the blueberry cake has been a hit twice now. I also agree that comments by people who had made the dishes are much more helpful when posted- it's great to read people's personal tistws on recipes


I just finished my second slice and it was amazing. Just sweet enough! I will absolutely be making this again.


This was absolutely fantastic! I've given the recipe to many of my friends and my mom, have made it for some of them, and am going to make it for the third time this weekend. Really. It's wonderful!


Just finished eating a warm piece of blueberry cake. Wonderful! (As are all of your recipes.) Thinking about baking the cake using ground flax to replace the eggs and soy milk or rice milk instead of regular milk. I'm curious to create a vegan version. Also, I used whole wheat pastry flour and earth balance margarine instead of butter and it turned out quite well - not too thick. Just the right amount of sponginess.


I have tried many blueberry recipes, but this was the best. It was not dry or thick tasting like aplaine popcorn cake. Measurements were bvery accurate and the directions were easy to follow. I will serve this at Thanksgiving.


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