When it comes to breakfast, I'm all about savory dishes. But like love, or geopolitics, my breakfast cravings are never so black and white. One thing I can count on, is that when I feel like something sweet for brekkie, a stack of moist blueberry pancakes will fit the bill. The way the rich creamy butter, nutty sweet maple and tart bursts of blueberries intermingle in my mouth is a contentment inducing treat on mornings that call for just a bit more sweetness.
I've even been known to make a stack of blueberry pancakes for other meals during the day, which got me wondering: "what would blueberry pancakes look like if it were a dessert?" It's a thought process that led me to this Blueberry Maple Cake which captures all the best parts of everyone's favorite fruity breakfast and amplifies them into a decadent butter cake that's great with tea, or as a summertime dessert.
First, I started by replacing the pancake batter with a pound cake batter. More sugar and more butter makes for a sweeter richer cake. To give the butter a boost, I use cultured butter (a.k.a. European butter). The reason why cultured butter is better has less to do with the pedigree of the cows and more to do with the way in the which the butter is made. In countries like the US and Japan, butter is made by churning fresh cream until the milk fats coalesce into chunks of butter. In Europe, the cream is fermented before it is churned, which creates new flavor compounds such as diacetyl (the main ingredient in artificial butter flavor)
Put simply, cultured butter tastes more buttery. meaning anything you use it with will have that movie theater popcorn taste (minus the questionable additives). The other benefit is that you can use less of it, replacing the remainder with yogurt, which adds a hint of tartness, like a great buttermilk pancake.
To ensure my cake had plenty of maple flavor, I reduced the amount of sugar in the batter, giving me leeway to pour a whole bunch of maple syrup on top of the finished cake without making it too sweet. This naturally produces veins of syrup in the cake providing a nice contrast of textures as well not unlike the pancake it was modeled after.
Like with the butter, the type of maple syrup you use will make a difference in the intensity of maple flavor as well. I like using Grade B maple syrup (known as Medium in Canada) which has a darker color and more intense maple flavor. Whatever you do, please don't try to make this with the fake stuff as it will probably leave you with a sticky mess due to its higher viscosity.
- Line an 8-inch by 4 1/4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat it to 350 degrees F.
- Weight the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl and whisk together to combine.
- Whisk together the yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth and runny.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer add the room temperature unsalted butter and sugar and beat until light in color and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
- Add the 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add 1/2 of the yogurt mixture and mix until just combined. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the rest of the yogurt mixture and mix until just combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined.
- Toss the blueberries with a tablespoon of flour, which will help them incorporate with the batter better.
- Add the blueberries to the batter and fold them in with a spatula by hand.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan and flatten off the top, making sure the batter goes all the way to the corners.
- Bake the blueberry cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 50-55 minutes).
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Spoon the maple syrup evenly over the cake, waiting till each pour gets absorbed into the cake before pouring on more.
- Let the cake cool in the pan and then cover the pan with foil and let the cake rest overnight for the syrup to seep evenly into the cake.