BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

True Blue Summer

24 Comments

As the summer growing period reaches a crescendo, the sheer abundance is enough to make me giddy, tearing through mile-high stacks of tomatoes with abandon. Fresh produce flooding markets near and far, a riot of colors and shapes adorn farm stand shelves as far as the eye can see, and everything looks good enough to eat. It feels silly to crave more in light of such abundance, yet I can’t help but yearn for the local specialties so precious and so fragile that they never see mainstream distribution. Though less exotic than some prime picks, the Frozen Wild Blueberries from Maine are the first things that come to mind. It’s harvest time up north, and the good news is that everyone, not just New Englanders, can enjoy those tiny blue jewels because much of the crop is flash frozen within 24 hours of picking, locking in both taste and nutrients at the peak of perfection.

Uncompromising standards of production mean that Frozen Wild Blueberries are some of the rare treats available all year long in any grocery store’s freezer case. Don’t let that luxury lure you into a false sense of complacency, though- Now is the time to act! Make the most of prime seasonal pairings to bring out the best flavors nature can create. Perhaps not the most obvious couple in the culinary spectrum, blueberries and corn are truly a match made in summertime heaven. Starting with ingredients so perfect to begin with, it doesn’t take much to draw out their best qualities in any recipe. Especially when it comes to Frozen Wild Blueberries, there’s no gamble as far as quality is concerned; every bag contains the same sweetness and complexity as you would get right off the bush, no matter where or when you eat them.

Built upon a tender crumb containing both blue cornmeal and whole, roasted corn kernels pureed to a silky-smooth consistency, this cake isn’t any old cornbread with frosting. Softer, sweeter, and infinitely more luscious, even the most hesitant taste testers were won over after a single bite. Truth be told, I only managed to sneak in a few forkfuls myself, fighting for a taste before the entire assembly was devoured before my very eyes. Frozen Wild Blueberries really pack in the flavor in both the jammy compote filling and creamy frosting, managing an intensity that larger, watery berries could only dream of.

There has never been a better time to indulge than right now. Whether it’s the cake that all the neighbors will buzz about for the Labor Day block party, or just a treat that brightened up the back-to-school blues, I can think of no greater grand finale to celebrate the end of summer.

Summer Blues Layer Cake

Blue Corn Cake:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Blue Cornmeal
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Cup Roasted or Grilled Sweet Corn Kernels (From About 2 Ears)
3/4 Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil

Wild Blueberry Compote Filling:

10 Ounces (About 2 Cups) Frozen Wild Blueberries
3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

Cooked Wild Blueberry Frosting:

5 Ounces (About 1 Cup) Frozen Wild Blueberries
About 1/2 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and pepper. Whisk lightly to aerate and combine.

Pull out your blender or food processor and place the shucked corn kernels in the canister, along with the coconut milk. Blend on high speed, pausing to scrape down the sides as needed, until the corn is completely pureed and perfectly smooth. Add in the non-dairy milk, vinegar, and oil, and pulse to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry, mixing with a wide spatula just until the batter comes together. It’s fine to leave a few lumps, as long as there are no big pockets of flour remaining. Divide the resulting batter equally between your prepared cake pans, smoothing out the tops with your spatula before sliding them onto the middle rack in your oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the centers cake comes out clean.

Cool completely before assembling the cake.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling by combining the Frozen Wild Blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the Frozen Wild Blueberries to thaw and become juicy, bringing the liquid to boil and stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil steadily until the berries have burst and the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally and mashing berries roughly with fork, for about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool, and chill thoroughly before using; at least 30 minutes.

For the frosting, toss the Frozen Wild Blueberries into your blender or food processor and thoroughly puree. Pass the smooth puree through a fine mesh strainer to catch any remaining pieces, pressing hard to extract all of the liquid, and discard the solids. Measure the resulting seedless puree and add enough non-dairy milk to equal 1 cup total. Place the mixture in a medium sauce pan, along with the cornstarch and salt. Whisk vigorously to dissipate any lumps of starch before turning on the heat to medium. Continue whisking gently until the mixture thickens and large bubbles begin to break on the surface. This won’t take very long since it’s a small amount of liquid, so don’t walk away! It takes mere seconds for it to scorch miserably on the bottom. Let cool to room temperature, and then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Move the whole pot into your fridge to chill thoroughly- This should take about 1 – 2 hours.

Once the thickened blueberry mixture is completely chilled, place the margarine and sugar (yes, granulated! Do not try using confectioner’s here) in the bowl of your stand mixer, and cream together until homogenous. Don’t rush this step, as thorough creaming ensures that the sugar granules actually dissolve into the frosting; Allow a solid 3 – 5 minutes here, depending on how cold the margarine is. Finally, add the cooled blueberry mix into the bowl, along with the lemon zest and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, and whip on high speed until the frosting is smooth, creamy, and fluffy. Again, patience is key, so give it time and you will be rewarded!

To assemble, level off the tops of your cake layers by slicing off any domed humps with a serrated knife. Once flat, place one layer on your serving plate or pedestal of choice. Evenly smooth the cooked blueberry compote all over, leaving about 1 cm of cake uncovered around the borders. When you place the next layer on top, it will likely push some of the jammy filling outwards, so you want to prevent it from running over the sides. After the second layer is secured in place, apply your frosting liberally to the top, smearing it outwards and down the sides. Pipe decorative borders and garnish with additional blueberries, if desired.

Makes 14 – 20 Servings

Printable Recipe

This post was written for and is sponsored by Wild Blueberries, but all content and opinions are entirely my own.

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

24 thoughts on “True Blue Summer

  1. Seriously how stunning is this cake! :) wonderful!

  2. Wow! I would have never thought of making a cornmeal cake, let alone topping it with blueberry icing. It is gorgeous and very innovative! If I can find wild blueberries in the UK, I will definitely try – although my icing skills will NOT be up to your obviously exacting standards.

  3. Yes I agree that cake is really gorgeous!

  4. Beautiful cake! I love that you use blue cornmeal, and actual corn – I’ve never had corn in a dessert before. As for blueberries, I think I’ve only ever had wild-frozen, not wild-fresh…thank goodness they still taste great frozen!

  5. This is beautiful Hannah! I’ve never seen blue cornmeal in these parts but have read that more and more farmers are growing blueberries in the UK to meet the growing demand from consumers since blueberries were hailed as a “superfood”!

  6. Oh my goodness, I must make a gluten free version of this! I’m willing to bet that my husband, who is not a blueberry enthusiast, might actually be won over with this cake!

  7. I love how this cake is blue through and through! You really took blueberry baking to a whole new level of awesome.

  8. Waw, Hannah! What a fabulous, special well-decorated cake! It looks fantastic even! I never seen blue cornmeal over here,..;does it taste like somethings special? It looks smashinh though!!! Waw!!!! FABULISCIOUS TO,.. I BET!!!!

  9. This is such a beautiful cake! The blueberry icing sounds great and so does the cake! I have got to try this!

  10. The cake looks stunning! I need to get some blue cornmeal to try too.

  11. Every since returning from Maine, I haven’t been able to get enough blueberries in my belly, and I love that you used cornmeal for the cake! I’ve made cornmeal cookies, but never thought to try it out in cake. I’m going to have to give this a go!

  12. YUM! Finally back to the blogosphere and this is the icing (all puns intended) on the cake :).

  13. Hannah, what a masterpiece! Not only is it gorgeous but I bet it tastes DIVINE as well. Such a creative pairing of flavors here! I also adore wild blueberries and remember fondly when my sister and I used to pick them up north when our family rented a cottage for the summer. Never had anything quite like this cake with them though! :D

  14. Wow. This looks amazing, so gorgeous. I am bookmarking this,making this and pulling it out to impress people.

  15. When you’ve got a cake that pretty, it seems like a pity to eat it (I’m sure I could bring myself to take a chunk out of its icing wonders pretty quickly though!)

  16. what a pretty cake. neat idea!

  17. Beautiful as always! Yesterday I totally had a sugar cone full of coconut based local blueberry ice cream. It was quite a lovely way to end the last month of summer.

  18. oh my look at that gorgeous color and interesting pairing!

  19. Hannah, thank you for featuring your fantastically mouthwatering and beautifully decorated cake. The name sounds charming…and lovely, perfect for the end of the summer! You are a talented woman and baker!!

    Plus the ingredient, blue cornmeal is pretty cool ;) I’ve never thought about it…

    I love blueberries…I don’t think I see them here in Valencia! :( :(

  20. Wow I love this cake look fabulous …great job :)

  21. Looks AMAZING! I’m on a no carb diet right now but I might just break it for a slice of this cake or two.
    I’m going to try the cake with some Matcha green tea, I’m thinking it might be a good combination with the wild blueberries.

  22. I made a version of this for breakfast this morning–halved the sugar, replaced the oil with applesauce and spooned the compote over each serving (no frosting for breakfast). Thanks for the idea.

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