Blueberry Cornmeal Cake with Toasted Nut Topping

19 Sep

. . . “Serve with vanilla ice cream” we were commanded.

Sunday looked like the best day to make a dessert to serve with the big turkey dinner planned for Monday. Pie is what this savvy single’s mom traditionally serves for dessert, almost always a pumpkin pie with a turkey dinner. My luscious Taste of Canadacookbook has an interesting coconut pumpkin pie recipe but I was leaning, as usual, towards cake.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt

I was certain that one of my dinner guests would pass on both pie and cake. So what, I asked myself, do you do when you are left with half a pie? My mother would see no trouble with this quandary, but two pieces of pie in a week is almost twice my limit. So I settled on Blueberry Cornmeal Cake with Toasted Nut Topping from a cookbook I’d recently received as a gift. Dishing Up Maine, by Brooke Dojny, contains many ‘must try’ dishes. Maine and my part of Canada grow many of the same crops. We in Eastern Ontario, unfortunately, have no local lobster, or mussels, or crabs . . .

The recipe indicated this blueberry cake would freeze well so, I reasoned, any leftovers could be sliced into individual portions, wrapped well in plastic wrap and set aside for future enjoyment. This cake is a homey one, having coffee cake/snacking cake qualities and serves 8 – 10 pieces. And it is very easy to prepare.

Start off by greasing a 9″ round or square baking pan. Set aside ½ cup of unsalted butter so it can soften. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash and zest a lemon until you have ½ teaspoon. Measure out the blueberries, wash well, pick over and remove stems. Allow berries to drain and then pat dry with paper towelling to remove most of the moisture. I suspect the Maine cookbook assumes you would use wild (Maine) berries, but I had the larger cultivated ones available so I used them.

Batter looks curdled after adding milk & lemon zest

Into a medium-sized bowl, measure 1 cup of flour, the cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Whisk together. In a larger bowl, place 1 cup of white sugar and the softened ½ of butter. Cream together using a hand mixer. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the lemon zest, the milk and vanilla and beat together. The batter at this point will look almost curdled, so do not be alarmed.

On medium speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth.

Toss the cleaned blueberries with 2 Tbsp of flour to coat. Then gently fold the blueberries into the cake batter. Do not over-handle. Pour batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top of the cake. Evenly spread your choice of chopped nuts over the cake top and the sprinkle with a 1 Tbsp of sugar.

Toss Blueberries with 2Tbsp flour before . . .

Bake in the oven until nuts are toasting and fragrant, about 35 – 40 minutes, and a tester (the iconic toothpick is good enough) inserted in the centre of your cake comes out clean. If the nuts start to burn, cover cake top loosely with foil. Remove the cake from oven and allow it to cool completely in its pan set on a wire rack.
If you are not serving that day or wish to make a fancy presentation on a cake stand or plate, run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert the pan onto the wire rack to allow the cake to drop from the pan. Then flip the cake again onto the serving dish, so the nut side is facing up. Several of the nuts come off in this process. I simply swept them off the counter into my palm and then re-scattered them over the top of the cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and serve within 2 days, or freeze for up to one month.

. . . gently fold berries into the cake batter

We followed the recipe’s commandment to serve with vanilla ice cream (or heavy ‘poring’ cream), but the cake is so moist and crunchy and sweet on its own that the topping isn’t really needed.

Spoon batter into greased pan, smooth top, sprinkle with nuts and 1Tbsp sugar

Moist, crunchy, flavourful


1 cup + 2 Tbsps           all purpose white flour
3 Tbsps                         Yellow cornmeal
1 tsp                              Baking powder
½ tsp                           Table salt
½ cup                          Butter, softened
1 cup + 1Tbsp             Sugar
2                                    Large eggs
1/3 cup                        Whole milk or low fat milk
1 tsp                              Pure vanilla
½ tsp                           Grated lemon zest
1 ½ cup                       Blueberries (3/4 pint) [wild or cultivated]
3/4 cup                        Chopped fresh pecans [or wal nuts]


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