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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Comments

heidi-scituate is where i've lived my entire life! the tiny seaside town was incorporated in 1636 and is 25 miles south of boston. its funny to find it your blog and in gourmet from 1974!!!! most people have difficulty pronouncing it. we say sit-chew-it, from the native american satuit meaning cold brook.

michaela

2 Questions: 1) Why unsulphered molasses? 2) I often have a problem baking with commercial blueberries - they are overwatered when grown=big, beautiful and tasteless, so baked goods come out a bit soggy and very blue, but with little blueberry taste to them. Any suggestions? Thx!

Sharon

looks very nice, i will try it.

Joerg

I have some Huckleberries that would be wonderful in this. They are super sweet berries as the Summer has been so hot and dry in Idaho. Too sweet for pie, perfect in pancakes. I hope they taste as good with molasses as the blueberries.

Paula

Would agave nectar work, or no?

April

what a great recipe--this sounds linke sometig we'll have to try. I 'inherited' a stack of vintage Gourmet mags when a friend's foodie grandma passed away, she had kept them all those years! They are full of great ideas, and such a trip to another ers, so I'm with you on loving having them!

Rebecca

I'm so interested in this cake! I've been told to take blackstrap molasses for health reasons (all the iron and minerals and such) and the recipes I've seen using it seem so... blah. But this one sounds divine! It might be a disaster, but I think I'm going to try it and sub in all-purpose GF flour and see what happens. An adventure for a rainy weekend!

erica

OMG!! that looks so good, I'm off to the store to buy what I need!!!!!

Bernadette

Wow! I was thinking there was cocoa powder or chocolate in it, too. I think I'll try it with some of the wonderful dark cherries I got at the market this week. They're really sweet & I think would also work well in this recipe. Yum! My husband will be very happy :-)

Kathleen

Just wanted to let you know that I made your peanut butter cookies (the ones with olive oil, but I used coconut oil). I used whole wheat pastry flour. THESE cookies are fabulous! They are what I want in a peanut butter cookie--good pb taste, not sugary and lower in fat and better for you. Love them. Just wanted to let you know and that I posted them on my blog with a link to yours! http://kevnkoi.blogspot.com/2009/08/peanutty-madness.html

Katrina

This looks so good, but I'm confused: the cake looks chocolate, but I don't see any in the ingredients. Is that just from the molasses? HS: Hi Nick, that's just from the molasses - can you believe that?

Nick

It's wild blueberry season here in Newfoundland, and you can't go outside without finding them, as well as partridge berries (which are called lingon berries elsewhere.) I already made scones, but this recipe sounds delicious. It's very much like the boiled pudding recipes that are traditional here. They also pair berries and molasses. Those tend to be served with a heavy on the butter hard whiskey sauce. YUM!

Rebecca

I heart your blog!

Heather

Sounds like an interesting recipe. I always enjoy looking back at old recipes, although most of the ones that I see are through church cookbooks and downright horrific. HS: I hear you - If you only knew how many truly inedible vintage recipes I've tried....the ones from natural food sources can be particularly bad :/

Anonymous

sounds perfect! one question: are you tossing the blueberries in while froze, or should they be defrosted first? and could you just use fresh? thanks for another lovely recipe, heidi! HS: Hi Rachel - yes, you stir in them in frozen. It's certainly not the end of the world if you stir them in fresh, but I think they tend not to overcook if you start w/ frozen - it's certainly not the end of the world if you put them in there fresh though. ;)

rachel

Barb - I have sifted WW pastry flour before to get a more uniform, lighter texture, and it takes some time, but it works. Also, the product Whole Foods sells in their bulk section tends to be very fine and powdery. Too bad we're pretty well done with blueberry season in Philly. This looks really nice, and easy to veganize.

Sarah

mmm wanna try it...

Virginia

I love the idea of finding old Gourmet magazines at flea markets - I may have to go out on a hunt today! Nothing screams August like blueberry cake - thanks!

Sarah-Two Blue Lemons

Heidi: Where I live--half way across the world from you--I had never seen molasses in supermarkets. (Though we have agave nectar, maple syrup and honey.) Can you recommend anything that could be used instead of molasses in this recipe? Thank you! Su HS: I think molasses is key for this particular cake unfortunately. There are some amazing honey cakes, and I've done a few cakes sweetened with maple syrup (you can poke around the archives), but for this cake - molasses is key.

su

I am so trying this tonight ...

beebo

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