Blueberry and Poppyseed Butter Cake

A favourite cake of my father’s is a poppyseed angel food cake, and when I was growing up, my mother would bake one annually for his birthday. I have fond memories of the dessert, often glazed in a thin and not too sweet chocolate icing. The tiny black seeds are thusly associated in my mind to a kind of celebratory luxury.

When I came across Alice Waters’ recipe for a poppyseed cake that incorporated plenty of fresh blueberries, I could not resist testing it out. It is from her new-ish book, The Art of Simple Food II, published in 2013, as a follow up to her amazing The Art of Simple Food, from 2007. Despite the fact that the deliciously plump blueberries are not yet in season here in Vancouver, the markets often carry them anyway, and there are enough markets around the West End that one can usually find not too bad of a deal on a pint or two of fresh ones. As well, a jar of poppyseeds from the great spice shop, Penzeys, which I picked up at their downtown shop in Seattle, had been sitting in my cupboard, biding its time patiently for just such an occasion. Read the rest of this entry »



June 15, 2010

so, i’ve been baking a lot lately, as i’ve had a bit of time on my hands, and cakes have been my main area of interest.

ina garten is known for her decadent, yet simple, recipes – and her cakes are no exception.  i’ve been making her “lemon yogurt cake” for years, but just recently tested out her “beatty’s chocolate cake” recipe.  the chocolate cake is super rich, with strong hints of coffee, and a delicious buttercream icing, and made the perfect birthday cake for a friend of mine.  i took both recipes from ina’s cookbook, “barefoot contessa at home”.

just last night, i decided to give another cake recipe of hers a go – her “carrot and pineapple cake”.  it calls for a pound of shredded carrot, and a whole lot of vegetable oil as the main fat, and it’s really worth the extravagance.  i happened to have the carrots already in my fridge (a great excuse to use up the last pound of a 2 pound bag!) and the only ingredient i had to run out and purchase was the cream cheese for the ridiculously amazing icing (which calls for 3/4 of a pound of cream cheese, 1/2 a pound of butter and a full pound of icing sugar!)

it turned out perfectly!  i omitted the raisins and the pineapple, as some of those who will eat the cake are not particular fans, but i kept in the walnuts and it really made little difference.  the beauty of the cake is in the batter and the shredded carrot which adds a great texture and flavour.

i shredded the carrot using my food processor with the grater attachment – this makes the process a whole lot simpler and faster.

as far as baking cakes goes, this one is a relative breeze, as the oil, eggs and sugar just get beat together without the fuss that goes into the usual creaming of butter, sugar and eggs.  the trick is to sift the flour so that it’s light and well-aerated, before adding it to the wet ingredients.  and not over mixing the batter before adding the carrot.  it’s also essential to sift the icing sugar before adding it to the butter and cream cheese, as this removes all the clumps of sugar and make the finished icing nice and smooth.

in the end, ina’s “carrot and pineapple cake” recipe delivers a dense and rich cake that will not disappoint!  it’s almost worth it for the icing, alone!