Genius Recipes

Brooke Dojny's Blueberry Snack Cake with Toasted Pecan Topping

By • July 18, 2012 • 28 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help --  FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Blueberries achieve their life's mission -- the snack cake.

Blueberry Snack Cake

Get in as many good summer fruit cakes as you can.

It's as much a necessity of the season as standing by the side of the road elbow-deep in blackberry brambles, or lumbering away from a farmers market eating blueberries by the palmful.

As perfect as ripe, naked berries and stone fruits can be, when they stew and burst inside a cake, they achieve their life's mission. You might think their mission was to go forth and create more fruit trees and bushes, but that's only half of it.


They were born to become cakes. Sugar-crusted, toasty, juice-strewn cakes. Cobblers, crumbles, buckles, betties are other worthwhile ways to meet your summer quota.

What all of these cakes and cake-adjacents have in common -- and what they lord over even the most straight-shooting pie -- is their unimpeachable ease.

They don't expect a frosting. They make their own syrup without dirtying a saucepan. They require only a modestly stocked pantry and very little lead time, and a stash of willing fruit.

creaming butter

To the constellation already well-loved on FOOD52 -- an airy nectarine slump, a nubby almond peach cake, a lemony plum-capped one -- I submit a new star: Brooke Dojny's Blueberry Snack Cake with Toasted Pecan Topping.

Dojny is an expert on cooking New England-style, having written cookbooks on lobster and beans and clam shacks, and she developed this recipe out of a regional standard.

Brooke Donjy

"When I was developing The New England Cookbook, I gathered lots of community cookbooks and virtually all of them seemed to have a recipe of that ilk -- but I found the standard formula to be somewhat boring." Dojny recently told me.

So she added more butter, a sprinkling of crunchy pecans, and a little bit of cornmeal. "I like that slightly gritty texture that cornmeal contributes and, since it's always been a staple New England ingredient, felt that it was legitimate."


Her additions make the cake, which is a study in textures. There's just enough cornmeal to give it structure and a yellow tint, without weighing down the batter. It bakes up lofty and tender, with a crackly sheen on top dotted with pecans.

blueberry cake

Merrill has been making this cake for years using wild Maine blueberries -- almost a religious choice, as much as an ingredient-driven one -- and she finds that they're tiny enough to stay suspended in the cake, like a blueberry muffin.

The larger cultivated blueberries available to most of us tend to sink to the bottom and meld into a blueberry pudding topped with cake and crunchy pecans. Both are good, you'll see.

Blueberry Snack Cake

Brooke Dojny's Blueberry Snack Cake with Toasted Pecan Topping

Adapted very slightly from The New England Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 1999)

Makes 8 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
2 eggs
1/3 cup whole or lowfat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups blueberries
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Blueberry Snack Cake

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: genius, blueberry snack cake, Brooke Donjy, The New England Cookbook

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Comments (28)


over 2 years ago Bunnie1

Can you use frozen berries?


over 2 years ago smslaw

You can use frozen berries.


over 2 years ago smslaw

Quick, easy and delicious! I'm going to try it next with blackberries, which are now ripe everywhere I look.


over 2 years ago Goecke

Made this the other night. Good, quick recipe, but wasn't just blown away by it.


over 2 years ago Midge

This was a huge hit at my house. Definitely a keeper.


over 2 years ago Pallavi

My friend made this amazinggg dish. It turned out great! It is a mix of the soft texture of the cake, with the crunchy pecan topping and juicy blueberry bottom.


almost 3 years ago kittkatt

Delish! That is all I have to say. That and I love the slight grain of the cornmeal that comes through and all those yummy pecans. We loved it, thanks!


almost 3 years ago SandraDee

The blueberry gods visited our house last night. Absolutely yum in all ways. Followed recipe to the detail.

Thank you so much for your website for its content, design, and as always, we chatty cooks who are always willing to share :-)


almost 3 years ago GMA8.5

This was so great-- dessert one night with ice cream, breakfast the next morning with a little fresh cream. Survived a whole battery of subsitutions: wild blueberries I had already frozen, a little short (pun?) on the butter, walnuts that I had around, cornmeal pancake mix instead of plain cornmeal -- didn't seem to matter.


almost 3 years ago LLStone

We made this, and it was delicious. Easy and scrumptious. I can't think of any reason this wouldn't work w/ peaches - can any of you? The peaches in the midwest are wonderful right now.


almost 3 years ago Jacq

Made this morning and am enjoying for breakfast; absolutely delish! Thanks for sharing! I was low on butter so added tropical fruit sauce (like apple sauce) yum, yum.


almost 3 years ago Joanrich

Can you freeze this recipe?


almost 3 years ago Trillinchick

Grandmother would love this! I recently read (in a Food52 recipe?) that shaking blueberries in a little flour before adding to the batter would keep them from silting to the bottom of the mixture. Maybe reserve a little flour or cornmeal at the beginning so that it is added "back in" rather than being extra to the recipe.

To the person whose family thinks they don't like blueberries, they can be won over. I was! A friend introduced me to vanilla yogurt with blueberries, chopped walnuts, banana, and just a small amount of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa (powder form). Eaten chilled - but before nuts can get soggy - better than ice cream. Or throw eveything in the blender, add protein powder, and purée away. The result is (healthy) Heaven in a glass. Enjoy!


almost 3 years ago PistachioDoughnut

I made this snack cake yesterday, and I could not wait to get a picture also. As soon as we finished taking pics, we grabbed a slice each and another slice. It was that awesome. I really loved the topping of sugar and pecans, and then the lemon zest really gave it a nice hint of citrus. Overall it had nice texture. I don't think the cake will be able to see monday. We will finish it by today. Thanks for the recipe.


almost 3 years ago Suzanne Sarin Shepanek

Sadly, no pecans for me - I'm allergic. What would be a good substitute? I usually chop up a combo of roasted soy nuts, oatmeal and oat groats and use that in place of nuts but I've never subbed in such a large amount as one cup. Hm.


almost 3 years ago PistachioDoughnut

They have also suggested walnuts. Even I would say walnuts are good sub...but are you allergic to walnuts also. But, I would say atleast add anything nutty, because it really gives it an awesome texture and crumb. I had made this yesterday. Let me go and get a piece of it now.


almost 3 years ago lilgal

I would like to make this delicious cake for my family's Maine vacation together. A recent development - my son needs to have food gluten-free. Can anyone suggest a good GF flour to use in this recipe?


almost 3 years ago MissLindyS

CupFourCup available at Williams Sonoma.


over 2 years ago lilgal

Thank you! Enthusiastic reviews certainly back up your recommendation.


almost 3 years ago davidpdx

Read the recipe this morning and realized I had all the ingredients at hand, including freshly-picked Oregon blueberries. Just made a batch and had a warm piece for lunch. Wonderful flavors and textures. Thanks for posting the recipe!


almost 3 years ago Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker)

This recipe looks lovely but I have some family members who are not fans of baked blueberries. {GASP} Have you tried it with any other berries or summer fruit?


almost 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm guessing (haven't done it yet) that it would be wonderful with blackberries, or even pitted cherries.


almost 3 years ago Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker)

Thanks. I do have an abundance of cherries at home now. Just might try that combo this weekend. Thanks!


almost 3 years ago Kristy Mucci

Kristy is an expert at making things pretty and a former Associate Editor of Food52.

Sour cherries could be nice, too.


almost 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Absolutely perfect. You're so right Kristen, simple cakes are truly berries highest calling - well, maybe tied with being eaten from a bowl after having been partially smashed into a puddle of heavy cream.


almost 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Love this recipe. Made it years ago. Thanks, Kristen, for reminding me of it in the midst of blueberry season! If it cools off enough I'll be baking one this weekend.

Love Brooke Dojny, too. She's a wonderful writer and recipe developer.


almost 3 years ago PistachioDoughnut

Thanks for the recipe..I was so so looking forward to something related blueberries..this is absolutely fantastic...


almost 3 years ago thirschfeld

This so totally brings to mind summer on Cape Cod or vacationing on the coast of Maine. Immediately wet bathing suits and sea salted sunburnt bodies come to mind. Lovely looking snack cake, and hey, anytime something is called a snack cake you know it has to be great.