High altitude baking recipe: Blueberry all-day cake combines sweet blueberries and tart lemon
March 28, 2018
High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Light, moist, tender, with a lovely play between sweet berries and the tartness of lemon…this cake will bring springtime to your Easter celebration, even if it's snowing outside. Serve it at brunch or as dinner's last course, it'll elevate any meal. And, taste and texture aren't its only assets: it can be made a day ahead and transports with ease.
What matters when making this gem? Bringing your butter, egg and sour cream to room temperature, beating the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and measuring your flour by the spoon and level method make a huge difference in the cake's texture. Once you add the flour to the batter, gently stir only until it's incorporated or you'll end up with a tough cake.
Your pan should be eight inches in diameter. Check yours before baking; to determine their true size, measure the distance across the pan's top from inside rim to inside rim.
Blueberry All-Day Cake with Lemon Streusel
Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above
Make in an eight-inch shiny metal springform pan
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1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker's
1/2 cup bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2-3 drops lemon oil or 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, optional
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon oil or 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, optional
1 cup blueberries, washed, stemmed and dried
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Unlock your springform pan, flip the bottom over so the lip faces down and re-lock it in place. (This will make cutting and removing the baked cake easier.) Grease the pan with an oil-flour baking spray.
2. Make the streusel: To make with a food processor: Place the sugar, flour, salt and zest in the bowl and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 12 pieces, add them and pulse until mealy, with some larger chunks visible. Add the lemon oil (if using) and pulse just until distributed. Set the mixture aside. To make by hand: Whisk the sugar, flour and salt to combine. Stir/toss in the lemon zest. Cut the butter into small pieces and, with your hands or a pastry blender, work it in until the mixture is mealy, with some larger chunks. Sprinkle in the lemon oil, if using, and toss mixture to distribute it. Set the mixture aside.
3. Make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine well and set aside. Cut up the butter and use an electric mixer to beat it, with the sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat again until blended. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla and lemon oil/juice (if using), and beat at low-medium speed until combined. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture and, on the lowest speed or by hand, stir only until blended (don't overbeat). Gently fold two-thirds of the blueberries into the thick batter until evenly distributed. Check the bottom of the bowl for any dry ingredients and stir them in.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing and leveling it. Scatter the remaining blueberries over the top and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the entire top, pinching some of it into larger clumps.
5. Bake until the top colors slightly, the edges are darker and start to pull away from the pan sides, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 32-37 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool, after about 30 minutes, run a knife or small off-set spatula around the sides, pressing towards the pan, not the cake and remove the pan sides. The cake can be served at this point or cooled completely and stored airtight in the fridge for a day or two. Serve warm or at room temperature. If stored, refresh in a 325-degree oven until warm before serving.
This recipe is a variation of one published by King Arthur Flour.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks Baking Above It All and Cookies in the Clouds, (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a high-altitude baking teacher. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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