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At the cabin: Blueberry-Lemon Sour Cream Cake

  • Blog Post by:
  • August 16, 2009 - 4:50 PM

Blueberry season means Blueberry-Lemon Sour Cream Cake.

Blueberry-Lemon Sour Cream cake, cooling on the counter.

 

By Rick Nelson

True confessions: I would probably never bake this cake at a cabin (although never say "never," right?), because it requires a food processor and an electric mixer, and it leaves a clean-up in its wake that is best dispatched with a dishwasher.

I would, however, bake this cake at home the day before leaving for the cabin, as I did last weekend. Why? For starters, it travels well; just stick it on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap and carry it to the car. But the main reason is that it's one of those cakes that actually tastes better the day after it's baked. Who knows why? Maybe it's the moist factor; there's a heck of a lot of butter and sour cream in it, and the four eggs don't hurt. Looks-wise, it also makes a pretty impressive first impression. Oh, and it tastes even better than it looks.

This cake has been in my baking repertoire for about five or six years, and I almost always whip one up after I've been blueberry picking at the spectacular Rush River Produce in Maiden Rock, Wis. I haven't made it down to that part of Lake Pepin yet this summer, but when I spied the beautiful blueberries at the Country Lane Farm stand last week at the University of Minnesota Farmers Market, I knew that I'd be buying sour cream.

Straight out of the oven.

Don't let the fussy directions turn you off. It's Cook's Illustrated, so nothing is left to chance. Just read them through a few times before getting started. It's actually a very simple process. Believe me, when you show up at the cabin with this cake in your hands, you'll be popular.

 

BLUEBERRY-LEMON SOUR CREAM CAKE

Serves 12 to 16.

Note: A tube pan (also known as an angel food cake pan) works best. If using a tube pan with a removable bottom, set pan on a large sheet of foil, then fold foil up around sides of pan before filling it with batter. From "Here in America's Test Kitchen" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated (America's Test Kitchen, $29.95).

For streusel

3/4 c. flour

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar, divided

2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

2 tbsp. unsalted butter , cold, cut into 2 pieces

1 c. pecans , chopped

1 c. fresh blueberries

1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest

For cake:

12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 tablespoons softened butter for greasing pan

4  eggs

1 1/2 c. sour cream, divided

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 1/4 c. flour

1 1/4 c. sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

Directions

To prepare streusel: You will be preparing two streusel toppings. In food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flour, sugar, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and cinnamon and process until combined, about 15 seconds. Transfer 1 1/4 cups of flour/sugar mixture to small bowl and stir in remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, then set aside to use as one of the streusel fillings. Add butter and pecans to mixture remaining in food processor; pulse until nuts and butter resemble small pebbly pieces, about ten 1-second pulses. Set aside to use as the second streusel (which will serve as a topping). In a small bowl, gently combine blueberries and lemon zest and reserve.

To prepare cake batter: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10-inch tube pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, 1 cup sour cream and vanilla extract until combined. In a medium bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add butter and remaining 1/2 cup sour cream; mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened and mixture resembles wet sand, with few large butter pieces remaining, about 1 1/2 minutes. Increase to medium speed and beat until batter comes together, about 10 seconds; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Lower speed to medium-low and gradually add egg mixture in 3 additions, beating for 20 seconds after each and scraping down sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until batter is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

To prepare cake: Using rubber spatula, spread 2 cups batter in bottom of prepared pan, smoothing surface. Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup streusel filling (without butter or nuts) and sprinkle 1/2 cup blueberries over streusel. Repeat with another 2 cups batter and remaining 3/4 cup streusel filling (without butter or nuts) and remaining 1/2 cup blueberries. Spread remaining batter over, then sprinkle with streusel topping (with butter and nuts).  Bake until cake feels firm to touch and long toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean (bits of sugar from streusel may cling to tester), 50 to 60 minutes. Remove cake from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be streusel-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and reinvert cake streusel-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve. Cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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