Editor’s Note: Hailing from her new book The Cake Chronicles, Ana Zelić gives a twist to the classic spice cake by adding a blueberry filling. And because it uses frozen, you can make it any time of year, not just when they’re in season. This is what she had to say:
My newfound appreciation for blueberry pie has influenced me in creating this extremely delicious cake. The star of the show has to be the sweet, gooey blueberry filling that I could just eat on its own—it’s that good! But luckily, the soft and moist cinnamon spiced cake serves as a worthy vessel, too. With its simple yet romantic design, this cake might just be the summery showstopper you’ve been looking for.
Makes 12 to 14 servings
- 3⁄4 cup (1 1⁄2 sticks; 170 grams) unsalted butter, sliced
Blueberry Pie Filling
- 12.5 oz (350 grams) frozen blueberries
- Rounded 1⁄4 cup (60 grams) granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Rounded tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch + 1 to 2 tablespoon (15 to 30 milliliter) water
- 1/3 cup (45 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1⁄2 cups (360 milliliters) whole milk
- 4 to 6 tablespoon (60 to 90 milliliters) blueberry filling
- 1 1/3 cups (2 2/3 sticks; 300 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cooking spray or butter, for pans
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon (10 grams) baking powder
- 2 teaspoon (10 grams) ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Rounded 3⁄4 cup (180 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1⁄4 cup (60 milliliters) whole milk, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoon (45 milliliters) sunflower oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Reserved brown butter, at room temperature
- Rounded cup (250 grams) soft light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
Brown the butter:
- In a light-colored skillet, melt the sliced butter over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes foamy, then turns clear and starts showing brown specks. You’ll also notice a nutty aroma. It’s done after about 5 minutes, at a medium brown stage. Transfer the butter to a metal bowl and leave at room temperature to firm up. You can also put it in the fridge, but make sure to stir it occasionally so it firms up evenly and gets to a room-temperature consistency.
Make the blueberry pie filling:
- In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the frozen blueberries, granulated sugar, cardamom and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for a few minutes.
- In a small bowl, dilute the cornstarch with the water and pour the mixture over the blueberries, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon until everything is incorporated. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook for a few minutes, until thick. If the filling is too thick, you can always add some more water—a couple of tablespoons (about 30 milliliter) at a time. But keep in mind the filling will thicken some more in the fridge.
- Once thickened, transfer it to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming. You can put it in the fridge to cool completely.
Begin the frosting:
- In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, salt and milk. Cook over medium to high heat, whisking constantly so the mixture doesn’t burn or catch on the bottom of the pan. Once it starts to thicken and you notice bubbling, cook for another 2 minutes, still whisking constantly, until it resembles pastry cream. This whole process could take up to 10 minutes.
- When the pudding base is done, strain it through a sieve onto a shallow plate to get rid of any lumps. Cover it with plastic wrap touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming and let it cool to room temperature. You can speed up the process by letting it cool in the fridge, but prior to using, it must be room temperature.
Make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) or 325°F (160°C) if using a fan-assisted oven. Grease three 6-inch (15-cm) round cake pans with cooking spray or butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. In a measuring jug, lightly whisk together the sour cream, milk, sunflower oil and vanilla.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the reserved brown butter with half of the sugar until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rest of the sugar and beat to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Next, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture to avoid splashing and overmixing the batter. After each addition, mix the batter just until combined. Scrape the bowl a couple of times with a silicone spatula to make sure everything is mixed nicely.
- Divide the batter equally by weight among the prepared pans and level it with an offset palette knife, then bake for 22 to 25 minutes. It’s best to check the cakes after 22 minutes and then adjust the baking time accordingly, because ovens can vary. The cakes are done when they’re springy on the top and when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. When they’re done, remove from the oven and leave them to cool in their pans on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up a little bit before removing them from the pans to cool completely.
Reprinted with permission from The Cake Chronicles by Ana Zelić, Page Street Publishing Co. 2021. Photo credit: Ana Zelić