Mrs. Chase's Prudence Island Blueberry Cake
In loving memory of my friend, Ros Bosworth, passed on to my family from his wife and my dear friend, Marcia. When my son was in college, I decided to start a cookbook for him called DEAREST MICHAEL, which would have each of his favorite recipes in them and the story of how they landed in our kitchen. This was one of the first ones I began with because it is a generational recipe and passed on from a dear family friend who is like family to me. This project has evolved into my second book, which will be part of the Life Cycling brand. Life Cycling Through My Kitchen is the current working title.
Because I make some product recommendations in my blogs, I may get a small commission as an affiliate. Anything I recommend I personally use. I want to make it easier to shop for items you may not have, need to replace-- or if you are a lover of all things kitchen like me, just want to add to your collection.
There is something about a recipe that is handed down through generations. The blur of the typeface from years of butter on my fingers and hence the recipe, the yellowing of the card, and the smear of chocolate all add to the magic of the recipe.
This recipe has been a staple in our morning routine year-round.
You were always game for breakfast at our go-to morning hole in the wall, HOPE DINER. Nowadays, you have branched out into onion or everything bagels, fried egg sandwiches on Brioche rolls, and this Whitehouse favorite, Mrs. Chase’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 have the ingredients. And I have used Frozen blueberries in the winter, too which work enough to hold me over until the next Blueberry season.
Flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla- the staples of a baking pantry.
I learned this from my mother, and she learned it from her mother, your great-grandmother. 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 a perfectly sized glass pan to cook just the perfect recipe. One I use frequently is the Corning Ware famous cornflower motif that belonged to your Great Great Grandmother Mimi.
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.
Here is the Costa Nova pan I love from Portugal that will surely become a regular date with this recipe.
I also fell in love with this beautiful Portmeirion dish (I am guessing you are seeing a trend with my color choices)
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 rewrite, so I am including them just as I received this one from Marcia at a birthday party I had for myself when we first moved into our condo in March of 2011 when I turned 46. Dad and I had just split up, and 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.
I love you. Love, Mom
MRS. CHASE’S PRUDENCE ISLAND BLUEBERRY CAKE (as written by Marcia to me)
My husband, Ros, had 60 blueberry bushes on our property on Prudence Island, and we looked forward to July when the early bushes produced fruit. One of the first things I cooked with the berries was 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 1940s. Blueberries, blackberries, wild strawberries, and elderberries are native to the island.
We enjoyed 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.
MRS. CHASE'S BLUEBERRY CAKE, (but I call it Marcia and Ros' Blueberry Cake)
The early mornings of holidays, the first pint of blueberries in the summer months, the warm smells of cinnamon and sugar baking in one of your favorite pans.. say no more. This is soon to become a fixture in your morning routine.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Preheat oven to 375.
Generously butter the inside of the happy dish you chose.
- 2 C sifted flour
- 2/3 C sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ C softened butter (not melted)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 - 3/4 C milk (Marcia and I have discussed this, she has used almond milk, and it has worked fine, I have also used half and half in a pinch, and it has also worked terrifically. You have to add the milk starting at 1/2 cup may be a bit more, but this is one of those things you just have to get a vibe for).
- 2 C blueberries*
*I have used frozen blueberries, chopped strawberries, and sauteed chopped apples or peaches, too and it is all great if you want to switch it up occasionally. Chocolate chips even work, but there is nothing like fresh picked blueberries.
- ½ C golden brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ C finely chopped pecans (optional)
WHAT TO COOK WITH
- Mixing Bowl
- Paddle spoon or wide wooden spoon
- Rubber spatula
- Baking Dish
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
HOW TO CREATE THE MAGIC
- Sift dry ingredients.
- Cut in softened butter.
- Add slightly beaten eggs, vanilla and milk.
- With a solid and strong mixing spoon mix together gently by hand
- Fold in Blueberries.Place in a well-greased 8 x 11 pan. Marcia uses this size, I tend to use a square pan.
HOW TO MAKE THE TOPPING
- Mix brown sugar, butter and cinnamon together, I use my fingers to break up the butter and blend, a fork is fine too.Then mix in the nuts if desired.
- Spread over cake before baking.
- Bake in 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes.
This is a dreamy 9.5 inch Square baking dish delight from Casafina. I so love turquoise bakeware.
I have included some beautiful perfect size bakeware that will last a lifetime if you are looking for some new goodies for your kitchen or as a gift for someone you love. These 2 Le Creuset baking dishes are great because you can make a small one separate to give to someone. I love this idea.
TIP AND SIDE NOTES
Skip this if you are well versed in baking, but if you are just starting out as a cook (as my son likely was when I first wrote this out for him), Here are a few beginner pointers:
- 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 smoothly. This is the glory of this recipe and what makes it so moist. Always place in a prepared oven, meaning preheat to 375 and don’t put in the oven until it is at 375, hot and ready.
Baking is not about over-mixing
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.
Please pass this recipe along by sharing it in whatever way that is the way you do. Great recipes are meant to be shared. Spread the love. And if you give this a try, please let me know by replying to this blog post. You don't know this, but you are officially a beta tester to see if I am communicating these properly.