We had a cake bake-off (a cake-off?) to celebrate International Cake Day. This simple, blueberry-studded cake won our dessert-loving hearts.
You might not yet be aware of this phenomenon, but there are an awful lot days in a year. The number of days has stayed the same, but now, there are the other days to think about. There are serious days and silly days; days for awareness, action, and conservation and days for frivolity. There’s a day for talking like a pirate and a day for reading James Joyce and a day for naked gardening (Google that one at your own risk). There are a lot of food and drink days: days for whiskey and for wine; days for pancakes and for doughnuts; days for hot dogs and for tacos. There’s even a day for leaving a particularly abundant summer squash on your neighbor’s porch. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)
At Storey, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to books that might fit a Day on any given day. It would be easy for us to find ourselves in a perpetual state of celebration, and probably not getting much work done, because when we do decide to observe a Day, we don’t do it halfheartedly.
Take our most recent in-house competition. Our Associate Director of Marketing issued to challenge via email: bake a cake from a Storey cookbook, any Storey cookbook, and we’d have a cake-off, a taste test with sugar-deprived employees and voting. We’d post the winning recipe on July 20 (International Cake Day, in case you need to mark your calendar for future years).
Of course, many rose to the challenge. There were cakes from old Storey books and new Storey books. There were cakes from Storey books about dessert and from Storey books about beer. There were everyday cakes and very special holiday cakes. There were cupcakes and there were roll cakes. We tried them all. But there could only be one winner.
It feels a little strange to say that the winning cake recipe came from a Storey book about cooking fish. That fact makes more sense when you know that the book about cooking fish is also about enjoying the pleasures of the many fresh, seasonal foods from the New England coast. There’s seafood, yes, but there are also gardens and farms and wild spaces full of vegetables and fruits, including bushes that are — just now, as I type this — turning out fistfuls of ripe blueberries.
This winning cake is a tender cake studded with those beautiful blues and drenched — that’s right, drenched — in a sumptuous vanilla sauce. It’s simple to make and in a big sea of cakes, it doesn’t stand out for its appearance. But of all the cakes we tried, this one won our tastebuds and our hearts. So without further ado, we present our pick for International Cake Day, Storey style — just in time for National Blueberry Month.
Drenched Blueberry Cake
In New England, rhubarb marks the beginning of the growing season, while cranberries bookmark the end. Blueberries settle in somewhere in between. There are plenty of places to pick wild blueberries, and they shine in this cake.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and butter a 9-inch round pan.
- To make the cake: Sift the flour, sugar, and baking powder into a large bowl, and then add the butter, vanilla extract, milk, and egg. Beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth, and then stir in the fruit. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then remove to a plate.
- To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the sugar, cream, and vanilla bean, stirring to mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
- Slice the cake and serve with individual portions generously drenched in warm sauce.