BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

The Heart of the Matter

33 Comments

Perhaps I’ve been looking at the Valentine’s Day ritual from the wrong perspective. Instead of recoiling at the sight of puffy pink hearts and greeting cards of dubious sincerity, focusing on the abundance of new opportunities to indulge my sweet tooth would surely help the occasion pass with less pain.

Chocolate truffles and ornate confections are the “traditional” treats associated with this annual love-fest, but my own cravings have taken a turn for the lighter and fresher this year. Wild Frozen Blueberries never go out of style, especially in Hawaii where discovering fresh berries is about as likely as spying Menehune in Waikiki. Postage stamp-sized freezer space be damned, these tiny blue gems were a necessity to squeeze in. Fully stocked on this taste of home, it was a natural decision to go blue this holiday.

Unimpressive, even homely at first glance, the true beauty of this festive cake is revealed within the very first slice. Concealed beneath an ocean of deep blue batter lies heart of gold- Well, golden vanilla pound cake, at least! Talk about a sweet surprise.

Let the lucky recipient believe that it’s a testament to the power of love, or perhaps some wild baking alchemy, but the truth is grounded in good old-fashioned advanced planning. Little more work than crafting two standard, separate cakes, some clever cookie cutter usage and a heaping cup of patience are the only secret ingredients here.

Proving the power of Frozen Wild Blueberries in every moist, tender forkful, what appears to be a modest measurement goes a very long way, translating into volumes of robust berry flavor throughout. Wrapping around the heart-y core in a gentle embrace, the two components meld harmoniously, while nonetheless remaining distinct. They’re a perfect couple if I ever did see one.

Even if there isn’t a special someone to indulge this Valentine’s Day, don’t hide your heart away! Just cut yourself a thick slice of cake and taste the love that only Wild Blueberries have to share, no strings attached.

Hidden Heart Wild Blueberry Cake

Vibrant Vanilla Pound Cake:

1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Vanilla Non-Dairy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

Wild Blueberry Cake:

1 Cup Frozen Wild Blueberries, Thawed
1/3 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.

Beginning with the vanilla cake, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt in a large bowl. Once the dry goods are well-distributed, turn your attention to the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the non-dairy milk of your choice with the lemon juice, allowing it to sit for about 5 minutes to curdle slightly. Add in the oil and vanilla, stir thoroughly, and introduce this liquid mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients.

Mix gently with a wide spatula, stirring just enough to bring the batter together with few remaining lumps. Transfer into your prepared loaf pan, smooth out the top, and slide it into the center of your oven. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until lightly golden brown all over and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly. Let cool completely and chill for at least 1 hour before proceeding.

Once your cake is nice and cold all the way through, use a very sharp serrated knife to slice it into 1-inch thick slabs. Take a large heart-shaped cookie cutter that fits within the confines of the slices and punch out your heart shapes; cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees once more and lightly grease another 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.

Moving on to the Wild Blueberry batter, toss the berries into your blender or food processor, and thoroughly puree. Slowly drizzle in the water, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla to incorporate. Add in the sugar into the machine last, and continue blending until completely smooth, with just a few visible seeds remaining.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder, soda, and salt.  Just as before, pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry goods, stirring to combine with as few strokes as possible.

Pour a thin layer of the batter into the prepared loaf pan, spreading it out smoothly so that it evenly reaches about ½ – ¾ of a centimeter all the way across the bottom. Retrieve your heart-shaped vanilla cake cut-outs, and line them up in a row along the center. Naturally, they’ll fit if you can arrange them in the same order as they were cut, but it will work just as beautifully if they’ve gotten mixed up too. Pour the remainder of the blue batter around the sides and over the tops of the hearts, being careful to fill up any crevices. Tap the pan firmly but gently on the counter to release any air bubbles that may disrupt the pattern. It’s likely that you’ll end up with some extra batter that won’t fit into the pan; bake it off separately as cupcakes or mini-loaves to enjoy later!

Carefully slide the loaf pan into the oven and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into one of the blue sides pulls out cleanly. Don’t test for doneness in the center; of course the vanilla cake will be done, since it was already well-baked to begin with.

Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Makes 10 – 12 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 (BitterSweet)

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

33 thoughts on “The Heart of the Matter

  1. What a lovely idea for Valentines Day! :)

  2. Ok, this is the CUTEST!!!

  3. Wonderfully simple idea for the heart. Looks tasty!

  4. This looks great! I’d like to try it. Hannah! are the hearts standing up in a row while you pour the blue batter over?

  5. This looks amazing!

  6. So clever! What a beautiful valentines day cake- and I love that it’s not pink :)

  7. We are going to have to crown you the American Nigella if you keep inventing gorgeousness like this Hannah :)

  8. The gorgeous blue of the blueberry cake is hypnotizing!!

  9. What a fantastic idea!! Love this precious cake!! So adorable! ;-)

  10. How so very clever of you! Nice to see blueberry blue instead of the typical red strawberries. :-)

  11. What a beautiful cake, so creatively made :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  12. Such a clever idea, so pretty, and so tasty too, I bet. A slice of that and a cup of tea would be heaven.

  13. A beautiful appetizing & special heart creation inside! Waw, Hannah! How d you come up with these lovely genius ides??? Yeahh! MMM too! :) xxx

  14. So creative! As much as I love solid chocolate, when it comes to cake I’m more of a vanilla and berry girl.
    I hope you’ve got a special someone to share this with ;)

  15. I love this idea for Valentine’s Day! It’s so much more special than a box of chocolates and really shows the person how much you care. I have never ventured into baking quite like this, but now I certainly want to try! THe person who receives this is very lucky indeed :)

  16. I’m so glad to see you doing a valentine’s day recipe, even though the holiday is kinda lame. This heart cake makes it way less lame! :)

  17. These look really wonderful!

  18. This is such a great idea! And I love that you have all of those extra cake pieces leftover to munch on! I am not the biggest fan of blueberries so I am wondering if you could have the same type of effect with a red velvet cake.

  19. You are a freaking genius!!!! I love it! If my power stays on during the coming blizzard, I am definitely trying this!

  20. I love the vibrant blue that the blueberries gave the cake! It’s stunning! What a great idea to have the hearts reveal themselves upon cutting the slices of cake. Definitely not homely or unimpressive!

    Just a quick question: would the vanilla hearts get too dry after it is baked the second time?

  21. I think you can read my mind, your cake looks so nice and the heart stay still here as you place it. But I made one yesterday, my heart shape couldn’t stand still in the middle, maybe the batter was a bit too runny, some of them was out of the way when I slice it out, some of them even change the shape as well, it broke my heart as well. So I just gulp into my mouth. :(

  22. Hi Hannah! Do you add water or milk to the blueberry batter? It say’s 1/3 cup water in the ingredients then the instructions says, add non fat milk to batter. It does not say when to add water and how much milk?

  23. I love this cake – it’s SO creative! Celeste :)

  24. Love the combination, Hannah!

  25. I don’t think I’d find good fresh blueberries anywhere in the US in the middle of February, honestly. There are good locally grown berries to be had here, although hard to get your hands on unless you make it to a farmers market or grocery on Maui or the Big Island when they are in season (and even then, some growers are producing big bland strawberries). Resorts and high-end restaurants tend to snaffle up the best right away, but keep your eyes open – on one of your visits, you may get a chance to grab tasty local berries!

  26. Made these with changes. Mixed both batter at the same time and poured the basic one first into the pan and then the berries batter. Swirled a little to make them look like marble cake. the flour I used: half spelt flour + half white flour, macadamia oil instead of olive oil, and apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.

    taste: nasty, too much vanilla and the blueberries make them taste like medicine/cleaning product. I know a lot of fresh or frozen blueberries have that taste but this is bad.

    :(

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