Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blueberry Butter Cake

Hello all!

Using up the bounty of the season? If you have blueberries -- fresh or frozen -- you will want to make this recipe for Blueberry Butter Cake. Fabulous!

I was flipping through the notebook the other day, paying particular attention to any seasonal recipes that might catch my fancy. After all, Grandma grew up on a very prosperous farm in north-central Illinois and when describing it to me she often said "we didn't want for anything". However, Grandma would also speak of her lack of kitchen experience in her youth -- Aunt Evelyn (age 101 this August 18) is several years older and was usually the one to help out in the kitchen. I don't think Grandma was ever one to grown her own garden or can food for the winter, at least that I know of, but she always had a deep appreciation for anything homegrown or locally produced. It was from her I learned what a "Farmer's Market" was. Her favorite purchases included fresh flowers, tomatoes and blueberries. I don't know if Grandma ever baked this recipe for Blueberry Butter Cake but I would have recommended it to her. This one's for you Grandma!

Blueberry Butter Cake -- submitted by Mrs. Earl Metz

2 cups blueberries
Juice 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 T butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sifted flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1 cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 cup boiling water

Line a well-greased 8x8x2 pan with berries and sprinkle with lemon juice. Cream sugar and butter together; add milk alternately with flour, baking powder, and salt which have been sifted together. Pour this batter evenly over blueberries. Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Sprinkle over top of cake. Pour boiling water over all and bake at 375 degrees for one hour. 6 servings.

Sugar Sugar

Darn! I'd made the shopping trip of the week and discovered I only had 3/4 sup sugar in the house -- including the opening and dumping of any sugar packets I had on hand. Ok, enough for the cake but not for the topping. I ran to the neighbors' house and she generously gave me what she had -- a cup and a half. I once heard that it is possible to cut up to one-half of the sugar listed in just about any recipe (baked goods included) and the recipe would maintain it's crumb, texture and browning capabilities. I put that theory to the test. I used the entire 3/4 cup for the cake portion as written and then only 1/2 cup for the topping -- exactly half. But would it work?

Boiling Water

Pour boiling water over all? Strange to me because the berries and the batter really resembled a shortcake-style cobbler in the pan. The sugar/cornstarch mixture, also a little different to me, resembled the makings of a crunchy topping. But it was all good as it was. Why ruin it by pouring a cup of boiling water all over?? But this being a true-to-the-recipe kind of blog, I poured on. With the addition of the water the cake looked like it was a loose, runny mess. I popped it into the 375 oven anyway. After 20 minutes the cake firmed up nicely. After 45 minutes the cake was a nice deep brown in places and the blueberries had erupted to the surface and resulted in a very cobbler-like dish.

However, the boiling water concept had me feeling curious -- a quick Google search revealed that these "self-saucing puddings" have a genre all their own, perhaps being better known as "pudding cakes". There were recipes out there for chocolate ones, date ones, and lo and behold -- the exact same recipe as I've written it above!! Some nice lady named Gertrude posted it to under the name "Gertrude's Blueberry Batter Cake". Not so strange after all I suppose!

The Verdict

Even after running out of sugar and reducing it to 1/2 cup the crust had a nice snap when I spooned out a serving. The blueberries had completely melted into a jelly-like goodness that held it's shape and texture. Didn't miss the extra 1/2 cup sugar. And the taste? Perfect. Like a blueberry pie only better, cake-like and homemade.

Soup Can Score -- Five cans out of Five
Get yourself some blueberries and make this! Serve with homemade vanilla ice cream....yum!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chocolate Drop Cookies

I was tired of Jell-O for now so here's an interesting cookie. Interesting because of the sugar content and the type of batter. Remember the Filled Oatmeal Cookies? Just brown sugar, no white sugar. Well, in this cookie we repeat history.

There is no credit for this recipe, it's just written in pencil in Grandma's neat, thin hand.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

1 beaten egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 T vanilla
1/2 cup shortening
2 squares chocolate melted
1 2/3 cup cake flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t soda
1/2 cup sweet or sour milk
1/2 cup nuts

Beat egg until light, add sugar and mix well. Add vanilla then shortening which has been mixed with melted chocolate; blend well. Sift flour with salt and soda and add alternately with milk; add nuts. Drop small portions of greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake 350 10-12 minutes. While still warm, frost with butter cocoa frosting.

All purpose flour vs cake flour -- head to head

This recipe was a great choice for a busy day -- I had everything on hand including the leftover cake flour from the orange cake. However, I have been leery of that bag of cake flour every since the Orange Cake turned out funny in texture. Still, this was a chance to use some of it up.

According to the web, more protein exists in all purpose flour therefore giving more structure and density to the everyday baked goods -- think loaves of quick bread, etc. I wanted to be true to the recipe and have a structured cookie so I chose a moderate solution -- 1 cup all-purpose and 2/3 cup cake flour, sifted according to direction.

Baker's Chocolate?

2 squares chocolate, melted....Back in the day, Baker's chocolate (brand) would have been one of two options for a chocolate-based cookie. The other 1950s option was to use 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil to equal each one-ounce square of chocolate. I had squares so the recipe received squares -- but not Baker's brand. I keep either Ghirardelli or Lindt on hand, for cocoa powder it's Scharffenberger. Just my opinion but these brands are superior -- and all three brands of chocolate set off my spell-check and auto-correct. Sheesh! (Oh -- I cheated and microwaved the chocolate on half power for a riggin and dirtying a double-boiler here!)

Sweet and Sour

1/2 cup sweet or sour milk...I chose the "sweet" because it's all I had, though it was skim milk, though I bet buttermilk would be good in a chocolate cookie recipe. Sweet vs sour is funny because today we certainly don't call milk sweet or sour -- sour milk has a nose-wrinkling connotation that doesn't work with the senses. Call it buttermilk and we think mmmmm....scones, cakes, biscuits!


Not's hard to get Max to eat a cookie with nuts...I opted for an equivalent measure of chocolate chips. Nestle manufactured the chips as early as 1939 so it's historically correct in my opinion. Plus -- this would make the cookie a double chocolate cookie....even better!


The dough came together easily. The only oddity was the step combining the shortening and melted chocolate, though, it worked brilliantly as the warm liquid chocolate melted and softened the shortening somewhat allowing the mixture to be incorporated into the wet and dry ingredients without unsightly lumps. The dough also turned out to be as soft and silky as cake batter...interesting!

Super-Size Me

Ok, I know cookie sizes have changed dramatically in the past 60 years. There was no specific measurement in this one but MY cookie scoop is a 2-Tablespoon size. Gulp! This is probably double the size of a prim and proper 1950s cookie drop. I DID skip the buttercream frosting however, because there was no recipe for it that I could find in the notebook. Skipping the frosting alone saved calories, right??

The Ruling

After baking for exactly 10 minutes in a 350 oven the cookies came out soft, pillowy, and very light in texture -- almost like an angel-food brownie. They tasted very brownie-like but not at all fudgy. QUite good! The chocolate chips turned out to be a good addition -- they beefed up the texture a bit. Frosting? Yeah, would have been really good. If I fine the recipe. I'll let you know. Happy baking!

 Soup Can Score -- Four out of Five soup cans