I’m always searching for the perfect yellow cake recipe; one sporting a tender crumb and full, rich taste. The New Best Recipe gave me a divine yellow cake once, which I preferred gluten-free. Then yesterday I came across two cakes on the Smitten Kitchen blog, and decided to marble them together. Bad idea all around. They really needed to cook for different lengths of time as the recipe specified, and so I ended up having to scoop out the chocolate soup center portion of the cake. The rest of it though, the area on the edges, was so tender, so perfect. But it was a normal cake, made with normal gluten-y cake flour, so it was shipped off to be put to better use where gluten is cherished instead of abhorred.
How does this all connect? Well both the Smitten Kitchen cakes and the one from The New Best Recipe were made using a mixing method different from the standard one in which butter is creamed with sugar and the rest of the ingredients follow. They were done by beating softened butter into the dry ingredients and sugar, along with a little liquid until fluffy. Then the remaining liquid and eggs got added. The cakes yesterday reminded me of the success I had with the earlier cake, and reminded me to try the method again.
Today I made the Melt-In-Your-Mouth Blueberry Cake recipe from Cooking Down East. Originally the recipe asks for you to separate the eggs and beat the whites with some sugar until stiff. Instead, I followed the one-bowl method mentioned above, and just added an extra 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. I threw in some lemon zest, changed the milk to buttermilk, and decreased the baking time by 15 minutes. The result was an incredibly tender cake without the hassle of beating egg whites and folding them in. I assume this recipe works particularly well with gluten-free flours because beating doesn’t develop gluten, which might lead to toughness.
With the cake now so simple I’ll have another reason to make it besides the abundance of blueberries!
Tender Blueberry Snack Cake (gluten-free)
Adapted from Cooking Down East by Marjorie Standish
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used the King Arthur all-purpose blend because it was on hand, but go ahead and mix flours. Of course, because this is delicately flavored, I’d stick with neutral-flavored flours.)~reserve a couple tablespoons to toss the berries with
3/4 teaspoon xantham gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2-1 teaspoon lemon zest (or even omit)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick salted butter, softened and cut into 1/2 Tablespoon pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk (add one teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to a liquid measuring cup then add enough milk to reach the 1/3 cup line. Let sit for five minutes before adding to the mixture)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 by 8 inch square pan.
Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix flour, anthem gum, baking powder, lemon zest, and sugar on low until combined. Then piece by piece add in the softened butter, eventually increasing the speed to medium. Once the mixture resembles crumbs, add in 1/3 to 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and beat for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high so the mixture is light and fluffy. The add the rest of the liquid in two increments, beating for a minute or so after each addition on medium-high speed. As you beat in the remaining liquid, make sure to scrape with a rubber spatula down and around the bottom of the bowl.
Toss the blueberries with the reserved flour and fold into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place on the middle rack of the oven and cook for 35 minutes or so.