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Nature Girl

It seems that my wishes for fall have jinxed me as the weather in California has been pretty hot. While I dream of sweaters and scarves, a part of me loves summer’s last little gift. Instead of being cooped up in my office cubicle, I long to be outside, savoring this last chance to enjoy the feel of the sun on my skin. I did my best over the weekend to soak it all up, which included an early morning run at one of my favorite parks but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me. I never thought of myself as a big nature girl, but that is all changing. I’ve never wanted to be out and about so much before!

In high school, I used to hate anything that involved physical activity. I was the token girl who forged doctor’s notes to get out of PE. But I’ve totally changed my tune in the past ten years. Running in the park, hiking in the woods, biking through trails, trying my luck at horseback riding. I’m practically a different person now. And I love it. I love this renewed interest in the outdoors. I don’t think I played outside enough as a kid, mainly because there wasn’t that many people to play with since my neighborhood was void of young children. My mom didn’t want me to play outside that much for fear that I’d wander off and get lost. We were lucky enough to have a big backyard but a little girl can only amuse herself for so long. Don’t be sad though: I’m making up for it now.

In fact, a good friend of mine whom I meet earlier this year has signed me up for a cabin getaway in the California mountains during the first gorgeous weekend in November. I can’t wait to go hiking, biking, exploring every nook and cranny. Of course, I’m looking forward to wining and dining. In fact, I’m planning on bringing a couple of treats up to keep us satisfied in between our outdoor activities. All that vigorous activity is bound to make a girl hungry!

While I have a couple of pie recipes on the brain, I already know my go-to cake. In fact, it seems to be the cake heard round the world! Simple and easy, it has gained a following, and for good reason. Gourmet’s Raspberry Buttermilk Cake couldn’t be any more divine. Slightly tangy cake with succulent berries spread around, it makes for a delicious breakfast treat, or late evening dessert. The cake is extremely adaptable too, which I learned after realizing that I was supposed to bring a dessert to a friend’s BBQ and forgot to pick up the batch of raspberries and carton of buttermilk needed for the cake. But I adapted the recipe to fit what I had and used leftover frozen blueberries and 2% milk.

Guess what? It tasted just as good as I hoped. With the pops of color seeping out of every crevice, the cake screamed late summer.  My friends all devoured the cake, even after multiple helpings of roasted corn, BBQ chicken, and potato salad. I think the addition of buttermilk is crucial to the cake’s flavor so don’t skimp out on that unless you run out like me. Frozen berries worked really well, and weren’t overly juicy like fresh berries. The last minute sprinkle of sugar is a must; don’t skip this step! When your cake emerges from the oven, the little granules of sugar become crunchy, forming a sweet crust that melts softly in to the warm cake.

I know the cake seems boring or too simple, but once you dig in to the moist cake, you will realize why everyone raves about this cake. I plan on bringing this underestimated cake with me during my anticipated November weekend. I can’t wait to play outside, and, of course, dig in to this cake.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake
Printable recipe
Adapted from: the infamous Raspberry Buttermilk Cake a la Gourmet
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 35 minutes

● 1 cup all-purpose flour
● 1/2 tsp. baking powder
● 1/2 tsp. baking soda
● 1/4 tsp. salt
● 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
● 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
● 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 1 large egg
● 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
● 6 ounces frozen blueberries, (you can use fresh berries too)

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter blueberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

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September 20, 2009 - 11:05 am

radish - I love love love this cake – and it must be so good with blueberries!!

September 20, 2009 - 12:19 pm
September 20, 2009 - 4:37 pm

marie - yum, definitely one to try, and I guess you could even take apples or plums for this cake, don’t you think?
I just know your feeling so well, last time I woke up I suddenly had this deep need to get in my boots and my jacket and wander around, walk down into the city, through parks and alleys and just breathe in everything summer got left for me.

September 20, 2009 - 10:02 pm

Elizabeth - This looks delicious! I can’t think of a better, more simple way to celebrate summer berries before they’re gone. I love the rustic pattern that the juices create on the top. Beautifully done!

September 21, 2009 - 6:01 am

alana - I just wrote on this cake too! I used Nectarines, and that worked great. I’m really loving your blog- I’ve got a little something for you here:

September 22, 2009 - 10:19 am

stephchows - It sounds fantastic to me!! I love cakes that you can easily switch things out of :)

September 25, 2009 - 6:43 pm

kickpleat - This cake looks amazing. I love cakes with lots of fresh fruit and I’ll definitely give this one a try. Yum.

September 26, 2009 - 12:50 am

outsideoslo - Thanks for sharing–that looks delicious. There’s something wonderful about a freshly-baked cake, still warm from the oven.

And I’m with you on enjoying the outdoors. I absolutely hated sports, and having to run during PE class. But thanks to a good friend who trained me to run, I can now say I’m starting to understand why people do that sort of thing!

September 26, 2009 - 4:36 pm

Rita - that cake looks great! I can’t wait to get home (i’m in a college dorm now, with a tiny kitchen and no room to bake cakes) so I can try it.

October 3, 2009 - 11:09 am

Alya - The marbling effect on top looks gorgeous. Almost sexy!

October 3, 2009 - 8:10 pm

pam robinson - this looks amazing and i will be baking tomorrow… may i kindly post this and link to your site??? pls let me know… thank you, pam /redticking

September 2, 2010 - 10:34 pm

Mrs Sutton - WOW – just the name makes me want to try a piece RIGHT NOW – let alone the pictures. You have an AMAZING talent and I will certainly be attempting this recipe over the weekend. By the way – there is NOTHING too simple or boring about this cake – I live in the English countryside – this is positively EXOTIC! xxx

September 4, 2010 - 3:05 pm

Roberta Brown Root - This cake looks wonderful, but I can’t resist a scoop or pour of something alongside. Heavy cream maybe? Or sorbet. Can it really stand alone?

September 6, 2010 - 4:26 am

Tammy - Thank you for sharing the wonderful recipe…I will definitely give it a try! And it is often the seemingly simple things that taste the best.

September 7, 2010 - 4:41 am

Roberta Brown Root - This cake is perfect. I tried the raspberry version, as I have fall raspberries in the garden still, with just a dollop of pouring cream. Next I’m going to try a huckleberry version. It’s kind of the old fashioned cottage pudding my great grandmother made with apples. Thanks, Pam, for this great new blog discovery.

September 12, 2010 - 1:04 pm

Amy - My cake baked in about 20 minutes. It looks delish though.

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