Last week I started feeling a craving for my Mom's blueberry cake. It's one of those special family recipes that has been passed down for a few generations and I almost feel obligated to make it at least once a year. There is nothing fancy about the recipe, just butter, eggs, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, a scant cup of milk (if you don't know what that is, don't feel badly, because I had to ask my Mom. Scant is an antiquated term for "just under".) and of course, 2 cups of blueberries. You do not have to have any mad baking skills to assemble this little beauty. Trust me when I say this, because I am the worst cake baker in the land. During this past holiday season, I decided that I would make my great grandmother's applesauce cake, with buttercream frosting. This does not appear to be a difficult recipe. It has basic ingredients, lots of spices, raisins, etc. For some reason, every time I made this cake it came out of the oven like a concrete block and it was really dry. Even with copious amounts of buttercream frosting, swallowing a mouthful almost required that an EMT be present, in case of choking. I may as well have put a pile of sawdust in a loaf pan, added a few raisins and put it in the oven. I consulted with my Mom several times on where I went wrong, was it the assembly, the baking time? We eventually surmised that I had used a Kitchen-Aid to mix the batter, therefore making the batter too thin and tough and I left it in the oven too long. Easy enough to fix, but I'm waiting until the next holiday season rolls around to try that one again. After four failed attempts, I'm a little gun shy.
I decided that my approach to the blueberry cake should require no fancy mixers, just me, a bowl and a spoon. The only change I made to the recipe was to use cake flour in place of regular flour. The box assured me that it wouldn't change the flavor, but it would enhance the fluffiness of the cake. Since my cakes are almost always the opposite of fluffy, I was willing to give it a try. I can't tell you how dreamy this cake turned out. I haven't had it for about a year and I ate my first piece while it was still warm from the oven. Finally, I had baked a cake that I didn't need to use both arms to remove from the oven. I was so proud that I took a picture of the finished product, with my cell phone, and sent it to my Mom. She texted me back, "good job, this is a foolproof recipe!". What the hell? Did she mean that even a bozo baker, like me, can bake this cake and have it turn out well? Way to take the wind out of my successful baking sails, Mom. Never mind. I consoled myself with a second piece and decided that she was right. I am a bozo baker, but every now and then the odds go in your favor and today my blueberry cake would have made Great-Grandma Hannah proud.