Sometimes expectations can be a problem. We all have expectations about many things over the course of our lives and sometimes even a single day. Expectations of ourselves, those around us, places we visit, products we buy. It is good to have some expectations, standards really, as they allow us to decide where to allocate our valuable time and when we should cut our losses.
An expectation to finish a particular task in a day forces us to push ourselves, and often discover we are far more capable then we might have thought just a few hours before. Expectations make us try new restaurants, some of which we will fall in love with, buy a different brand of flour, which heightens out baked goods just a little, figure out someone we thought was our friend simply isn’t.
But then there are the times expectations turn something that would otherwise be entirely enjoyable into something decidedly not. A movie that is constantly being raved about doesn’t live up to the hype. A restaurant named one of the best, disappoints only because service and food weren’t as good as everyone else said, not because they were necessarily bad. It’s only our expectations that cause these things to be lackluster. Had we walked in knowing nothing about the movie or restaurant, our enjoyment would have increased perhaps substantially.
I recently picked up a blueberry buckle at a bakery I typically enjoy. It’s one of the only places I buy baked goods since my freezer is constantly full of amazing things I’ve made. I made blueberry buckle last summer, the recipe in this post, and it was out of this world amazing, so that’s what I was expecting. My dreams of a soft crumb topping, super moist and dense cake with more blueberries than cake itself were dashed as soon as I cut the cake open. The blueberries were few and far between and the cake certainly didn’t look very moist and decadent, but I went in for a taste, certain still that I would be impressed. It was as dry and flavorless as it looked, maybe even worse. Needless to say, I got the oven preheating and quickly thawed a treat from the freezer.
But I was still craving blueberry buckle, so it was back to this Martha Stewart recipe (I know, another Martha recipe, but it’s just a testament to how amazing her recipes are), which I have been wanting to share with you anyway. It’s just fantastic. Other than picking through the blueberries, which can be kind of time consuming, it’s quite easy to make, but it’s another recipe that takes an eternity to bake. The cake in Martha’s picture looks like white cake with blueberries throughout. Having made this twice, I haven’t found that to be the case either time. There are specks of white cake (I eat them first) surrounded by tons of blueberries and cake that has been soaked with their juice. It is pure blueberry flavor, particularly when they burst in your mouth. Then if that’s not enough, and really it could be, the cake is topped with a delicate, crumbly, lightly spiced topping. It adds enough texture without becoming crunchy and taking away from the softness of the cake. Call it a buckle, a coffee cake, a cake; eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. It doesn’t matter; just make sure you make this cake for a treat as it will exceed your expectations.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk (I used almond milk)
- 5 heaping cups blueberries, picked over
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan.
- Make the topping. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt until fully incorporated and there are no lumps. Using a fork or spoon, smash the butter into the mixture until it is evenly distributed and clumps of various sizes are formed.
- Make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. I did it by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would also work. Add the vanilla and stir to combine before adding the egg and doing the same. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately beginning and ending with the flour. I did 3 installments of flour and 2 of milk. Stir in the blueberries, breaking a few up as you stir.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing if necessary. Evenly distribute topping over batter. Place pan on foil in the oven in case crumbs or blueberry juice come off during baking. Bake for 65-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs, rotating halfway through if necessary.
- Cool completely in pan before cutting and serving. May be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Though it may be thawed at room temperature for several hours, I recommend thawing it in a 350 degree F oven, wrapped in parchment if you wish to prevent it from becoming crunchy on the edges, for about 25 minutes for quarters or eighths; bigger pieces will take longer to thaw.