Every summer, my calendar fills up with fun things like barbecues, beach meet-ups, picnics, birthdays, pool parties, casual dinners, and more. And I often end up being tasked with dessert since everyone knows I’m a practiced baker. There was a period of time when I struggled with what to bring—something cold is nice, but it’s prone to melt. Pie is ideal, but it takes some time and effort.
Ultimately, all I ever want for dessert is a really good slice of cake. Luckily, I stumbled upon this blueberry cake recipe by Elise Bauer a year or two ago and gave it a go. I’ve made it countless times since then, and it’s now my summer go-to.
The Ultimate Summer Dessert
Here’s why this blueberry cake is my favorite summertime dessert:
- It’s super easy. It takes minutes to throw together, then all that’s left is to bake and cool. I can make it on a weekday in between meetings and it’s ready to go for dinner.
- Any berry will do. Don’t have blueberries? Use blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, etc etc. A mix is also great! You can even use frozen berries if you defrost and drain them first.
- It’s very tweakable. Not only can you swap out the berries, you can make it gluten-free using 1:1 gluten-free flour. You can make it dairy-free by swapping the butter for oil or using vegan butter. Try a different citrus zest, a different spice—improvise!
- It’s just the right size. This recipe makes one round cake and will feed 6 people comfortably. Most of the time, this is all I need and it won’t leave me with a ton of leftover dessert that mocks me every time I enter the kitchen.
- It tastes great. The cake is light but sturdy, somewhere between a yellow cake and pound cake, with a hint of vanilla and citrus. The berries add juicy flavor and color to every bite.
Have Fun With It
For this last bake, I made the cake with a mix of mulberries from my neighbor’s yard and fresh blueberries (plus one random raspberry that had rolled loose in my crisper drawer). I added a small splash of lemon extract to the batter and swapped the cinnamon for nutmeg. I also used half olive oil and half butter and decreased the sugar to 2/3 cup.
This is all to say that you can make an excellent cake by following the recipe, but you can also play around. I’m not sure I’ve ever made this blueberry cake the same way twice, and it works every time. As long as you stick to the basic chemistry (don’t change the proportions of anything, and don’t change the leavening), you can tweak it as much as you want. It’s a great way to use up a bounty of berries and make a quick but pretty (and delicious dessert) in no time.
What are you waiting for? Make yourself a blueberry cake!