Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You Have One Hour, and Your Time Starts ... Now

Quick! You're invited to a barbecue at the last minute and you need to throw together a contribution. What to make? That's why it's always good to have a couple of quick crowd pleasers in your repertoire. Like an easy blueberry sour cream cake.

This one evolved from a raspberry buttermilk cake published last June in Gourmet (sigh, I do miss it).  I always have almonds in the cupboard, so here, instead of 1 cup of flour, I use 3/4 cup flour plus 1/4 cup ground almonds, and in place of the buttermilk I use sour cream (or plain Greek-style yogurt), because I never seem to have buttermilk just sitting around in the fridge. My hubby and I don't like our desserts extremely sweet, so I decreased the sugar to 1/2 cup (instead of the original 2/3 cup).

Also, the leavening in the original recipe seemed excessive for what amounts to 1 cup of flour, so I've cut the baking soda in half (down to 1/8 teaspoon). Cooking science experts, such as "Bakewise" author Shirley Corriher, say that too much leavening actually drives air out of the batter instead of giving a cake more lift. The adjustment seemed to work. My husband didn't know about my change to the recipe and commented that the cake turned out lighter.

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake


3/4 cup flour plus 1/4 cup ground almonds* (OR just 1 cup all purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (2 ounces) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
1 heaping cup blueberries**
1 tablespoon sugar (any kind of sugar crystals, eg. regular white sugar or turbinado sugar)


Before making the batter, place oven rack in the bottom third of oven*** and preheat to 400 F at least 15 minutes.
Generously butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan (or spray nonstick cake pan with cooking spray) so that it will be ready when you need it.

1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, ground almonds (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt with a fork. This helps ensure you don't get a clump of baking powder or soda in one spot.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, about 2 minutes, until fluffy. I use a medium speed of my hand-held electric mixer.

3. Add egg and extracts to butter, mixing well to combine.

4. Add about 1/3 dry ingredients into batter, mixing them in at low speed, then half of the sour cream. Mix in another third of the dry, followed by remaining sour cream. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients just until combined.

5. Spread batter into prepared cake pan, and then arrange berries on top.
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar and bake at 400 F until golden brown and tester inserted in center comes out with no raw batter, about 25 minutes. (You may have to adjust the time depending on your oven.)

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Run a knife between the cake and the side of the pan to
loosen the cake, place a plate on the pan and then invert it onto the plate. (This is the reason you need to generously butter and flour the pan ahead of time.) Remove the pan carefully, leaving the cake on the plate. Then invert the cake onto another plate so that it is right side up again.
Serve with fresh berries and whipped cream

*I really like using ground almonds (I whiz blanched slivered almonds in a food processor with a level tablespoon of sugar until they are ground relatively fine). But the original recipe used just 1 cup of all purpose flour (I like King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose), and it tasted very good that way too. If you don't use the ground almonds, you can add the tablespoon of sugar that would have been with the almonds to the creamed butter instead.

**The original recipe also called for 1 cup of raspberries, but I prefer 1 1/2 cups berries. I've also made the original recipe and this version with strawberries and pitted cherries, and all the variations were delicious.

***I like to preheat my oven (it's NOT convection) ideally for 20 to 30 minutes. I also keep a baking stone on the oven rack to preheat along with the oven and place the cake pan on the baking stone. This seems to help prevent the temperature from dropping drastically when I open the oven door to put the cake in. It also seems to keep the heat that hits the bottom of the baking pan more even.

I know this recipe by memory now, so it comes together super quickly for me (just under an hour from measuring ingredients to a slice on my plate). But I still set up the ingredients before getting started, and I place them in bowls on my counter (just like on TV cooking shows) in the order that I will be using them (a.k.a. mise en place). Not only does it let me zip through preparation quickly and easily, it makes me less likely to forget an ingredient. Yes, I've had a more than a few senior moments.

1 comment:

Leema Thomas said...

This sounds yummy Cynthia.
Wondering if you can figure out carb counts for the recipes (I only need the carb count). If you do, let me know. if not, I'll just estimate (you know why!!)
Happy Fourth!!

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