The blueberry season has just arrived where I live, and I’ve been happily working my way through my list of favorite uses for this wonderfully flavorful, vitamin-rich native American fruit. I’ve been eating fresh blueberries with cereal for breakfast, having them in liquid form as smoothies for lunch, and serving them with yogurt as an afternoon pick-me-up.
In this buttermilk cake recipe, however, I chose to get “my thrill on Blueberry Hill” by combining blueberries with ingredients that complement their flavor so very well: American Neufchatel cheese (a less rich form of cream cheese), lemons, and almonds. In other words, I aimed for the composition and taste of a blueberry cheese Danish pastry, but in cake form. This is a lovely, simple, and moist cake that would work equally well with other brightly flavored soft fruits, such as cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, bilberries, or apricots.
For the cake:
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
A pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
8 ounces American Neufchatel cheese, or cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon unbleached flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups fresh or fresh frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch round cake or spring form pan and lightly dust it with flour.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup light brown sugar and beat for approximately one minute until light and well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for approximately two minutes after each addition. Alternately, add one-half of the flour mixture and one-half of the yogurt, beating briefly on low after each addition. Repeat. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan.
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the Neufchatel (or cream) cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, 1 egg, and the lemon zest for approximately two minutes until very smooth and creamy. Spoon this cheese mixture over the cake batter and spread, leaving a one-inch margin of cake batter exposed around the perimeter of the cake, as shown in the photo above. Sprinkle the blueberries over the Neufchatel cheese mixture and the sliced almonds around the perimeter of the cake, as shown in the photo above.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake to room temperature and serve.
If you prefer a sweeter cake, an optional glaze may be applied to this cake after removing it from the oven. Whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and drizzle the mixture over the top of the cake.