Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt Cake

I have three things I want to say related to my recent Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt Cake.

First, bundt cake. I’ve been wanting to do a bundt cake for a while. But my bundt pan has been making me nervous. The last few times I have used it, big chunks of cake have stuck to the pan, and the resulting cake, while perfectly tasty (generally), just does not look that great. I bought a new pan in an effort to address this problem. Still, I was nervous, fearing that it might be me, not the pan, and that I would have yet another disaster.

Besides buying a new bundt pan, I did a few other things to try to ensure success. Rather than using Pam/spray, I used butter to grease the pan. I also buttered the pan so incredibly thoroughly I was pretty much up to my elbows in butter by the time I was through. Getting into all those grooves is not all that easy, but I really worked at it and made sure that every inch of surface was liberally covered.

When the moment of truth came, I placed a plate on top of the cake pan, and carefully turned it all over. Thwump. What a great sound, the sound of my cake solidly and easily falling out of the pan and smack onto the plate. Absolutely perfect.

Thing #2 – Blueberries. One of the appeals of this particular recipe was that the blurb mentioned using frozen blueberries (i.e., that these worked well with this cake). I’m worried that Cascadian Farms - my usual frozen blueberry supplier - is huge, and potentially just like corporate mainstream food. There is no rational reason for this, but I’m subscribing to the idea that local is better, that smaller is better, and that the big organic companies have some of the same issues as regular big agriculture. So I decided to experiment with a different brand, not one I recognize. Because I’m not familiar with the brand, I’m hypothesizing that they are a smaller outfit, and therefore possibly better in some way I can’t quite describe. I recognize that my thinking here is not particularly sound.

Anyway… when I opened the bag of blueberries to pour them into the cake batter, I was SHOCKED to discover that they were HUGE. I was completely taken aback, and I have to say, quite horrified. This was not what I was expecting at all. Being from Maine, what I am looking for in my blueberries is small small small. But, at this point, there was nothing to be done for it. The batter was ready, the pan was greased, and the oven was preheated. So, in with the blueberries. Did I mention that they were grotesque? Bigger than marbles, really.

Not surprisingly, the blueberries were still huge when the cake came out of the oven and the pan (the baking process can seem so magical sometimes; yet, sadly, this does not extend to the point of shrinking obscenely large blueberries to a more appropriate size). Regardless, the cake both looked good and tasted good (in my view – we’ll see what others have to say), and Alden pointed out that no one else would guess that I had made a mistake with the blueberries.

The third significant thing: Milo got to eat some of this cake. This was his first cake experience. Rather than actual bites of cake, I mostly gave him the (grotesque) blueberries, with just a few small bits of cake clinging to them. As always, he was pretty busy, moving all around and checking everything out, but in between all that activity, he seemed to like the cake. That’s my kid. [note: Milo is just eating here, not actually eating the blueberry cake...]


tuna said...

About the blueberries. I made blueberry pancakes this morning for my houseguests - Organic Wild Oats brand. Also big, but also tasty. Just went to look at the packet and it says: grown for and distributed by Wild Oats, Boulder CO. Nothing about WHERE they were grown. I seem to remember being able to buy frozen blueberries in Maine that were smaller, maybe from Wyman and probably not organic. Wyman might need to be avoided on other grounds however, since they are always mounting campaigns against gays in any way shape or form.

Clarissa said...

I think I have had the Wild Oats brand blueberries before. My recollection is that they were okay, though, as you indicate, big.

I did a bit more research. Cascadian Farms (and I have liked their blueberries - they are lovely and small) is now owned by General Mills. Somewhere on their website, they note that this "allows them to get their products out to more people." Okay. And, don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Cheerios (though right now I mostly find myself crunching them underfoot in my kitchen, as I routinely give them to Milo - just so he can throw them on the floor apparently). But, I just have a bit of trouble with this whole marriage of organic and General Mills. I like the idea of small organic. I know big organic is good, too, but it doesn't seem as good.

qcanoe said...

Wyman's are the ones, as tuna said. While I wait for politically correct berries, I'll probably keep buying Wyman's in the off season just becuase I feel - perhaps irrationally - like they're local and "slow" (as in Slow Food) compared with those gross blobberries. Not to mention they're yummy.

Ms. Z said...

This is Sarah Z, by the way!
I LOVE huge blueberries. I've never been a fan of the little ones. The bigger the better, especially in things like muffins, pan cakes, and bundt cake! But especially, I love them in my oatmeal or on my cereal.

What a lovely idea for a blog, by the way Clarissa. I'll enjoy reading about your cake adventures. My current most favorite cake to make is a chocolate vegan cake with vegan chocolate buttercream icing. My niece is allergic to eggs and milk, but loves cake. So I've gotten good at it. It's sinful!

Cute picture of Milo!