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 don't think I'll ever walk by an old food mag at a yard sale again. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.


I just picked blueberries. I don't have white flour, but can grind my ww pastry flour on the finer side. Have to try this. Thank you.


It's fitting that the recipe came from Scituate. It's a very old town (1627), and both molasses and blueberries are traditional New England baking ingredients. Patricia Michaelson was a well-known local artist who died in 1990. Here's a nice snapshot of her from an article in the Boston Globe: "Artist Patricia Michaelson was a quiet, understated woman whose peaceful blue eyes would peer out through large-frame glasses and see brilliant colors that could transform an ordinary landscape, still life or portrait. Never one to chase fame or fortune, she approached art with her heart. "Art isn't something I do. It's something I am. I have no desire to be famous, whatever that means. I'd just like to make art -- do wonderful paintings[.]" I love how recipes connect people across time and geography. HS: Thanks for this bit of insight Rosalie - she sounds like and amazing person.


Two of my favorite things - blueberries and cake! Can't wait to try it. (ad so glad I found this site!)


This sounds enticing! Blueberries & molasses...two long time favorites. My grandfather lived the life of a dairy farmer & custom blended his own mixture of feed for his herd which included molasses...I spent my childhood picking out & eating the bits of molasses whenever I could get away with it. I'm making this today.



My Food and Life Encounters

Oops, ignore my comment. When I clicked on "read more" it took me to your site. I guess it's some kind of blog-recipe-gathering 'bot.

Lucy T.

I sure appreciate you posting this recipe. I love molasses and have a really hard time finding recipes for it's use. Can't wait to try it!


I was curious if I could find the original recipe online, and found this link when I was googling. http://www.choicecooking-recipes.com/2009/08/27/old-fashioned-blueberry-cake/ Is it kosher for it to be here, or have they plagiarized your story? Only because your name doesn't appear anywhere on it, but it's your post word for word, and your photo. HS: Oh, it looks like they are taking my RSS feed - annoying. :/ Thanks for the heads up.

Lucy T.

Heidi - why does it call for frozen blueberries? Can you use fresh? If not, why not? Thanks!


Well I tried this recipe as it was written and I don't think it is for me. I didn't feel there was any sweetness to it at all, molasses I love, but that is all you taste. And it is very strong. I did not get a hint of the blueberries' taste at all. It was super moist though. If tweaked it could be a version of a gingerbread cake, but as it is, I was very disappointed. Sorry.

Bee Dee

Yay, another dessert recipe without sugar. Thanks, Heidi! I'll be making this tomorrow.


sounds delicious but nobody mentioned the fact that blueberries are a healthy anti-oxidant. delicious and good for you too.


Blueberries work to make this healthier, but I avoid molasses as a rule. For the gym conscious among us: I substituted a mix of partially caramelized splenda and agar for the molasses, and half the amount of flour for whole wheat (no problem at all, though it's mostly taste preference), and smart balance with flax seed for the butter. Doing so reduced the calories by half, the sugar by 100g, taste by 0, and even added a good deal of healthy omega-3s. If made with entirely high-protein whole wheat flour, this cake could actually almost qualify as a superfood.


This is my first time posting but I just want to say how much I love your blog! You write with such passion and colorful language and your photos are exquisite. I want to make this cake but I don't eat eggs - what can I use as a substitute?


Might this work with dark cherries instead of blueberries? This could be a hit with the rustic cake and leftover fruit...

Chef Andrew

Blueberry+molasses is heaven on earth...Thank you for this recipe!


I use "Grandma's" unsulphured molasses, which is expensive but has a good flavor. However, when I run across an old fashioned recipe that relies on molasses for sweetening 100%, I find the flavor just too strong, so substitute half of the amount of molasses called for with honey. It makes for a good but not excessively sweet flavor.


picking up the ingredients after work today and making this one over the weekend. sounds so good!


Heidi - What do you mean by 'divided' next to the 5 tbsp of milk? Sorry if this is a stupid question - I'm pretty new at this. It's great to see another recipe with molasses. All my friends loved the gingerbread (even I couldn't screw it up) which you posted a while back. HS: Hi Sarvamitran, I just mean that you use part of the milk at one point, and then the rest later on. Sorry if that is a bit confusing!


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