These days, my former Gourmet colleagues are spread far and wide, but no matter—when we connect, we always seem to pick up pretty much where we left off. We’re still family, in other words, sharing everything from life’s tragedies and triumphs to—no surprise here—recipes old and new.
The other day, I was reminded of the following blueberry pudding cake by Gerald Asher, Gourmet‘s wine editor for 30 years and author, most recently, of A Vineyard in My Glass (available at independent bookstores and online sources). The recipe, which was developed by food editor Melissa Roberts-Matar, made the cover of the July 2005 issue and was a hit with readers and staff alike. I have no idea why it fell out of my summer culinary rotation, but that won’t happen again, for it’s a great example of how to transform very straightforward, plain ingredients into something sublime. The cake is soft, moist, and tender, and the plump berries, briefly cooked until bursting with juice, create an inky, instant sauce.
Especially if your summer weekends revolve around entertaining, you need this recipe in your hip pocket. It can be baked a day ahead of time, and although it’s similar to a cobbler in its beguiling simplicity, it has more finesse. Even if you suffer from F.O.F. (Fear of Flour), it is almost embarrassingly easy to make. And it’s just as delicious for breakfast or brunch as it is after supper.
Happy Fourth of July! See you at the farm stand, over by the berries.
Blueberry Pudding Cake
From the July 2005 issue of Gourmet
Serves 6 to 8
Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 50 min
1/3 cup plus ½ cup sugar, divided
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
10 oz blueberries (2 cups)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1¾ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
½ cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter a 9-inch square cake pan or baking dish.
2. Stir together the 1/3 cup sugar, water, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small saucepan, then stir in blueberries. Bring to a simmer, then simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter, and vanilla, then add flour mixture, whisking until just combined.
4. Spoon batter into pan, spreading evenly, then pour blueberry mixture evenly over batter (berries will sink). Bake until a knife inserted into center of cake portion comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.
Cooks’ note: Cake can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept, wrapped well in foil, at room temperature.
And one addendum: After hearing from a couple of people who wondered whether you can make this with frozen berries, I emailed Melissa, but she didn’t recall if the recipe had been tested with frozen. (It was ten years ago, after all.) “We usually tested frozen fruit with pies with good results,” she wrote. “Use them unthawed. They cook and bake up a bit juicier than fresh, as frozen retains more water, but I don’t want to suggest doubling the cornstarch without having tested it that way. I’m sure it would be fine with the cake batter. Hope this helps!” Love her.