There is something about a recipe that is handed down from generations. Like Grandma’s HOT FUDGE SAUCE, the blur of the typeface from years of butter on my fingers and hence the recipe, the yellowing of the card, the smear of chocolate all add to the magic of the recipe.
This is a new recipe as you have just started to break out of your comfort zone for your morning breakfasts. You used to be very particular about the am food intake. Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Sweet Bread Stuffed French Toast, Cheese and Red Pepper and Onion Fritatta or Cinnamon Sugar Bagel from Bristol Bagels with only Bristol Bagel cream cheese- see picky, or rather particular. I raised you this way I suppose. Of course, you were always game for breakfast at our go to morning hole in the wall, HOPE DINER. Nowadays, (thank you college and THE LOBSTER POT summer employment) you have branched out into onion or everything bagels, fried egg sandwiches on Brioche rolls from Baptista Bakery, and this new Whitehouse favorite, Mrs. Chace’s Blueberry Cake passed down from one of my dearest friends, Marcia.
In this fast paced world of drive thru muffin shops, four dollar donuts coated with fruit loops, buying a store bought mix these days now seems retro. Baking “from scratch” is so easy and quick if you have the ingredients on hand. Besides the fresh blueberries in this recipe, I always do. Flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla- the staples of a baking pantry. I learned this from your grandmother, my mother and she learned it from her mother. Lucky for this lesson, you, my dear Michael, are the luckier one.
There is something inherently old fashioned about waking up in the morning and pulling out the perfectly sized square Corning Ware glass pan. This favorite cooking dish belonged to your Great Great Grandmother Mimi and I received it from your Great Grandmother Isabelle when they were selling our summer family home in Naples, Maine and had to break down the house belongings. There is something comforting about creaming the dish with fresh butter and setting the stove to 375, getting the recipe ready while you are sleeping. As I sift the dry ingredients and look fondly at the recipe, I am connecting with generations of women who have baked this very recipe for their families. There are some recipes that I just don’t want to re write so I am including it just as I received it from Marcia at a birthday party I had for myself when we first moved into our condo on Poppasquash in March of 2011 when I turned 46. I had just left Dad and I know this was a hard time for you. I am hoping that the continuity and the efforts Dad and I made to keep you in our foremost focus during this difficult time made this painful transition at least a bit softer. My dear friend, Ros has since passed away, but his famous blueberry bushes live on forever in their proud place in this glorious recipe.
MRS. CHACE’S PRUDENCE ISLAND BLUEBERRY CAKE (as written by Marcia to me)
My husband, Ros has 60 blueberry bushes on our property on Prudence Island, and we look forward to July when the early bushes produce fruit. One of the first things I cook with the berries is Mrs. Chase’s blueberry cake. This recipe originated with Mrs. Eugene Chase, a year-round resident of Prudence Island from the 19th century well into the 20th. This recipe was first in print in the early 1940’s. Blueberries, blackberries, wild strawberries and elderberries are native to the island.
We enjoy this blueberry cake all summer with a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of red wine after dinner as a summer dessert.
2 C sifted flour
2/3 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ C softened butter (not melted)
1 tsp vanilla
½–3/4 C milk (Marcia and I have discussed this, she has used almond milk and it has worked fine, I have used buttermilk and ½ and ½ and it has also worked terrifically)
2 C blueberries
Sift dry ingredients. Cut in softened butter. Add slightly beaten eggs, vanilla and milk and then blueberries. Place in a well greased 8 x 11 pan. (I have used the square pan as mentioned but it is a little small. The pan I prefer is the grey square that is a little bigger, but I baked this recipe for Stephen and Julie B. when Stephen’s mom passed away so they would have something to eat before going to the funeral and I am waiting for its return.)
½ C golden brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
½ t cinnamon
¼ C pecan meats (optional) I don’t use pecans (neither do I)
Mix brown sugar, butter and cinnamon together. Then add the nuts if desired. Spread over cake before baking.
Bake in 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes.
Here are a few pointers:
· “C” = CUP, “T = TABLESPOON, “tsp” = teaspoon
· Do not skip the sifting.
· When measuring the flour, scoop it into the measuring cup, then with a knife swipe it across the top of the measuring cup so that it is exactly the right cup full. Baking is precise, too much flour will make it dry, but if you do decide to be lazy, you can always add a little more milk.
· The recipe and some others will call for “cutting in the butter.” This may seem odd the first time you try the recipe, but it is exactly as it sounds- you take a slightly softened full stick of butter, cut it down the center lengthwise and then cut it into small cubes. Add them to the flour mixture and with a fork and knife, just simply cut it. It will be chunky and will not be mixed in smooth. This is the glory of this recipe and what makes it so moist. Baking is about not over mixing and not overthinking. Kind of funny that I am a good baker because I tend to overthink many things, but not baking. It is my happy place for sure.
· Always place in a prepared over, meaning preheat to 375 and don’t put in the oven until it is at 375, hot and ready.
I LOVE YOU.