Blueberry Cake

September 16, 2014

Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.

Today: A blueberry lemon cake for the last of summer's bounty.

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As I may have mentioned before, I'm not much of a baker. (I tend to leave the beautiful tarts and lofty layer cakes to Amanda, who has a way with such things.) Because of my feelings of inadequacy in this department, whenever a great, simple baking recipe comes my way, I seize the moment.

One such moment happened towards the end of the summer, when we were visiting my parents in Maine. We invited some family friends out for a sail one day (Clara's first sea voyage of more than an hour) and brought a picnic lunch to eat onboard. I made BLTs and packed some good potato chips, and for dessert our friend Betsy presented a blueberry lemon cake that she'd been tinkering with over the past few weeks, using the wild Maine blueberries that take over every local roadside stand and supermarket each August.

More: Ever made a Blueberry Schlumpf? If not, you should.

blueberry cake

As everyone, including Clara, devoured crumbly, sweet-tart mouthfuls of the blueberry-studded cake, my first and only thought was, "I have to get this recipe!" Betsy dictated the ingredient list from memory (she's one of those rare instinctual bakers with no professional training, who can pull a great cake recipe out of thin air), and I tapped it into my phone along with a few cursory instructions.

A week later, down in New Jersey, I used the local highbush berries (fatter and juicier than the wild Maine berries, and a little less tart) for my virgin attempt. Betsy's instructions didn't disappoint: the cake was tender and light, with a spongy, almost puddinglike center (if you want to achieve this marvelous texture, Betsy insisted, you MUST NOT overbake this cake), fragrant from the zest and juice of a whole lemon, and bursting with purple berries.

I gave a piece to Clara for dessert that evening, and then another for breakfast the next morning. I didn't grow up eating pie for breakfast, but in my book a cake you can serve both morning and night is a keeper.

blueberry cake

Blueberry Lemon Cake

Serves 8 to 10

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 lemon, finely grated zest and juice
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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

Photos by Mark Weinberg

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kari L. Jaquith
    Kari L. Jaquith
  • Nadia Raafat
    Nadia Raafat
  • Hayleilei
  • Merrill Stubbs
    Merrill Stubbs
  • Tamitra Foss
    Tamitra Foss
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


Kari L. September 19, 2015
I love this cake and have made it a few times. Tonight I am going to make it with frozen blackberries. It is what I have on hand.
Nadia R. September 17, 2014
Hi Merril, I am also a private chef, in Palm Springs, Ca, I also have culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu, I really enjoyed your Blueberry Cake it is very Tasty
Hayleilei September 17, 2014
i made this cake last night (anything Clara-approved goes straight to my to-make list) and while it is delicious, i do think that those using frozen blueberries should be slightly wary! when stirring mine through the batter, despite how lightly and carefully i thought i was being, they burst and stained the whole batter purple and made the whole thing very wet - and unsurprisingly affected the bake. if using frozen it may be better to use less, or, to stud the batter with them after pouring into your pan. otherwise, thanks merrill for a lovely end of summer recipe!
Nadia R. September 17, 2014
Did you sprinkle your blueberries, with some flour to avoid the bleeding in the batter
Merrill S. September 17, 2014
Hayleilei, I'm sorry this happened -- I should have added Nadia's note about tossing frozen berries in flour! Will do so now.
Tamitra F. September 17, 2014
I rinsed my frozen blueberries a few times before adding them to the batter. Worked like a charm. Thanks for the flour tip.