Okay. I think it’s officially safe to call it spring without fearing that it’ll snow tomorrow.
Russell and I, along with our pups, have been spending a TON of time out in our little yarden lately. We plan to do a lot of entertaining back there this summer, so we’ve been trying to get the space lookin’ purdy and comfortable. As I said in my last post, we didn’t have stairs to get out there until the end of last summer, so now that we do, we really want to make the most of the space. I also mentioned in my last post that there used to be a big picnic table back there when we moved in, but it was really poorly built and rickety, and the heavy snowfalls this past winter finally caused its demise.
For a while now we’ve been looking into getting a new table to replace it, and over the weekend we actually went and got one! A while ago we found a nice large (and relatively affordable) outdoor table at Ikea but we didn’t end up buying it because it was too big for us to get home. We don’t have a vehicle so trying to transport a big ol’ table takes some serious planning. Shipping would essentially double the price, renting a car in the city is outrageously expensive, and as soon as you utter the word, “IKEA”, car services and taxis see $$$ signs and find fun new ways to charge extra.
We have some friends who have a truck, but at first we thought it was too big a favor to ask of them. If you’ve never been to the Ikea in Brooklyn, or driven home from it, let me tell you, it’s a serious ordeal. Basically it’s like asking someone to drive you into the center of hell and back. As much as I love Ikea, the Ikea in Brooklyn (especially on a weekend) is a total madhouse filled with pushy grumpy humans who would happily gouge your eyes out if it meant they got their swedish meatballs before you did. After much hemming and hawing, we finally we decided to swallow our pride, cross our fingers, and just ask them. Miraculously, they actually said YES!
We knew that this big favor deserved a BIG thank you, so we decided that the best thing to do was to fill their bellies with something wonderful. Since the weather somehow seems to be getting warmer and warmer, I thought a nice summery blueberry bundt cake would be just the thing.
I know I’ve said this before, but I really do LOVE bundt cakes. Perfectly impressive and elegant without being too much hassle or fuss. I think it might be their retro 1950s ladies-society-club kind of feeling that I find so charming about them. Or maybe it’s because they remind me of my grandmother. Do I really need a reason?
I know it’s technically still Spring, but I just decided to dive straight into Summer with this cake. Unfortunately the markets aren’t as ahead of schedule as my appetite so I had a hard time finding fresh blueberries that weren’t a gazillion dollars. I suppose I could have tweaked my recipe a bit and used another berry, but I’m a taurus and my mind was set on blueberries. I ended up using frozen ones and was a little worried about how it’d come out, but they actually worked really well. I mixed them into the batter while they were still frozen so they wouldn’t be get mushy, and tossed them in a little flour first to make sure they were evenly distributed throughout the cake. You’ll want to do this step even with fresh berries, btw.
Not to toot my own horn, but this cake is freakin’ incredible. It’s crazy moist, super delicious, and wonderfully tender. It’s a bit like a pound cake, but not quite as dense, and is full of ripe berry sweetness without being cloyingly sugary. The berries are juicy little flavor bombs that practically burst when punctured with your fork. The tang from the buttermilk pairs perfectly with the lemon, which is the ideal complement to the flavor of the blueberries, and the blueberry lemon glaze is the cherry on the sundae. Can you believe the color of that glaze by the way? I knew the blueberries would give the glaze some color, but I wasn’t expecting it to be such a bright vibrant pink!
Pretty and tasty! The total package!
This cake is sure to be a hit at your next picnic or barbecue. If you’re like me, I’m sure you’re going to want to invent some occasion to have people over, just to have a reason to make this cake. I promise your friends won’t mind.
blueberry buttermilk bundt cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pan and berries
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
Zest of 2 lemons
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 1/2 cups confections’ sugar (or more, if desired)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.*see note.
In a medium bowl, whisk or sift flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Add lemon juice and vanilla to buttermilk and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix sugar and lemon zest until well combined to scent the sugar. Add the softened butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer on a low speed, add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Alternate three additions of flour and two additions buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, scraping the bowl between additions. Do not over-mix. Toss the blueberries with about 2 tablespoons of flour to coat, and gently fold them into the cake batter. The batter will be very thick so don’t worry if the berries squish a little.
Spread batter in the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the cake 180 degrees after 30 (to make sure it browns evenly). If using frozen berries, you may need to add 5 to 10 minutes more. The cake is done as soon as a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Set cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, and invert cake onto rack to cool the rest of the way.
When the cake is completely cool, prepare the glaze. Mash the blueberries in the lemon juice with a fork or potato masher. Press through a sieve or fine mesh strainer to remove the skins and get out the maximum amount of juice. Add the powdered sugar to the juice and whisk until smooth. Add more sugar if you like a thicker glaze.
Place cooling rack and cake into a clean jelly roll pan or baking sheet to catch any glaze that drips off the sides. Pour glaze over cake, letting it trickle and drip down the sides. If desired, you can collect any excess glaze in the baking sheet and pour another coat. Let the glaze set for at least 15 minutes before serving. Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
*To prevent sticking, I coat every inch of the pan with softened butter using a pastry brush, and then dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Refrigerating your pan while you prepare the cake will help firm the butter for extra insurance.