Blueberries are related to bilberries and grow in peaty soils or wherever heather grows. They’re one of the more recent examples of wild fruit being made commercially available. Usually associated with America, it is believed that 90% of blueberries come from America and that they were introduced to Europe as late as the 1930s. They are small, round, plump berries that are blue-black in colour and have a mild sweetness.
In recent years the blueberry has been lauded for its nutritious qualities, because they’re loaded with anthocyanins, which give the berry its blue colour and high levels of antioxidants. When cooked, the blueberry lends an intense flash of deep purple-blue to cakes, puddings, sauces, jams and relishes. Some of the best-known blueberry recipes come from the US and include blueberry pie, muffins, cheesecake and pancakes.
- Blueberries are great when eaten on their own but can also be added to cereal, yogurt and bread.
255g/9oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
225g/8oz caster sugar
225g/8oz butter (softened)
4 large eggs
1 tbsp milk
For the icing and decoration
400g/14oz light soft cheese
grated zest of 2 limes and the juice of 1
110g/4oz icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a deep 18cm/7in round tin, and line the base with greaseproof paper.
2. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, butter and eggs into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on slow speed until everything is mixed together. Increase the speed and whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk.
3. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top, bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the centre of the cake springs back when lightly pressed, and the mixture is starting to come away from the sides of the tin.
4. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool before decorating. This cake keeps in an airtight tin for 2-3 days.
5. To decorate, split into three layers.
6. Beat the cheese until soft, then beat in the lime zest, juice and icing sugar. Sandwich the cake back together with two thirds of the cheese mixture, and spread the rest on the top.
7. Arrange the blueberries in tight circles around the top of the cake, starting in the centre. Keeps for one day in the fridge.
For The Flaky Pastry
- 16oz all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 5 tablespoons of the water, until just moistened. If the dough seems dry, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of water.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 times. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, pat into 6-inch disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
The dough can be refrigerated for 1 day or frozen for 1 month.
- 2 lbs blueberries
- 6oz sugar
- 2oz all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the Flaky Pie Pastry into two 12-inch rounds 1/8 inch thick. Fit 1 round into a 9-inch pie dish. Transfer the other round to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a bowl, toss the berries with the sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon. Pour the filling into the lined pie dish. Lightly brush the rim of the bottom crust with water and drape the top crust over the filling. Press the dough edges together and trim and press to seal. Using a sharp knife, make a 1-inch slash in the center of the top crust. Bake the pie for 1 hour, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.
Sabyon with Fresh Blueberries
* Marsala wine is traditionally used, but you can also substitute sherry, Madeira, Grand Marnier, sparkling or dessert wine. Can also combine wine with a spirit such as bourbon, rum, or Calvados, or other brandy, or add a favorite liqueur such as praline or Frangelico. Citrus juice and zest, vanilla, or ground ginger or other spices may be added along with the wine.
Set up a double boiler or a medium-size stainless-steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. Check to make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, or the eggs may scramble.
With a whisk, beat the egg yolks and sugar together approximately 3 minutes or until pale yellow. Slowly whisk in the Marsala wine and set the bowl over the simmering water.
Continue to beat, approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs triple in volume, thicken, and reach a temperature of 140 degrees F, as registered on an instant thermometer. The eggs will first become frothy, then as they cook, they will slightly stiffen but still hold the air. If you stop whipping or the water boils you might scramble the eggs. Remove from heat and cool the mixture completely in the refrigerator. When the mixture is cool, fold in prepared whipped cream.
NOTE: Sabyon can be made ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for several days. Bring the sauce to room temperature before serving with your favorite berries.
In a serving dish (a large martini or wine glass makes a nice presentation), dollop some of the Sabyon. Add fresh berries. Finish by adding another good-side dollop of Sabyon and top with mint sprig and a few more berries.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.