Baking, for me, is both a comfort and an adventure. While I love the sweet results of baking, I am always a little fearful of having a recipe go terribly wrong. And oftentimes, it does. In fact, most of the time, my baking is a comedy of errors. If I ever were to host a baking show, it would no doubt be on the Comedy Network. Inevitably, I pull the results of my baking adventure out of the oven and go "hmm..." Maybe I overmixed the batter? Maybe I undermixed? Maybe my baking soda is old and no longer effective? Maybe the eggs really should have been room temperature? Maybe the butter was too soft? In the end, I chalk it up to my crazy oven. (Now that I think about it, it seems every place I've ever lived, I'm plagued with a crazy oven. Hmm...)
Among the many recipes that didn't make it onto the blog due to slightly disastrous results were the Champagne Cupcakes (hmm... it had a slightly metallic taste), the chewy, fudgy, triple chocolate brownies (hmm...are they supposed to feel like bricks?), and the Hershey Perfectly Chocolate Cake (hmm...3 minutes out of the oven and the cupcakes were so shriveled and sunken, they look like they have been sitting out for a hundred years---but, never fear, folks, this Hershey fan will continue to ruin this recipe several more times in hopes that I can find the "perfect" secret).
Recently, however, while making dinner for my parents, I tried two recipes from Alexandra's Kitchen that turned out delicious. So far, the recipes that Alexandra posts have yet to disappoint. In fact, I defy you to find a clunker at www.alexandracooks.com. For dinner, I made her zucchini fritters, and even though I did not use the tzatziki sauce (I used sour cream instead) and left out a couple of ingredients from the fritters, they were awesome.
The star of the night, though, was the Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake. Just look at her pictures and tell me, who could resist giving this a try? I generally don't keep buttermilk on hand, but I had bought it for a recipe and was excited to use it in this wonderful creation and am now a buttermilk convert! I'm not sure why this is a "breakfast" cake because it tastes too sweet, too delightful to be in the company of bran muffins and pancakes. It was delectable! Absolutely heavenly. Try it. You'll love it.
A couple more recent winning recipes that didn't make it onto the blog, including Red Velvet Cupcakes and Outrageous Chocolate Chocolate Cookies, were left out merely because I didn't have the time to photograph them. I don't think (from the way that cake looked and smelled) that I wouldn't have had the patience to take some pictures before devouring it completely, if it weren't for the fact that Mom was there. She was the art directer for the photo shoot, and together we managed some lovely pictures before the three of us dug into this delicious cake. She also helped out with a few dishes and tidying up while she was there (which I didn't discover until after she had left and found that a bunch of stuff has been magically put away.) Thanks, Mom.
And so, the moral of this story is: Moms are awesome, my crazy oven tries to ruin my baking, and this Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake is a definite, hands-down winner.
Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Posted in Alexandra's Kitchen
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon (I used dried lemon peel, but fresh lemon zest is best)
7/8 cup + 1 T. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk (If you don't have buttermilk, go out and buy it--it's worth it.)
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries. 4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes.