Friday, March 19, 2010
Blueberries + Lime = A 94th Celebration
Birthdays are a very particular thing in my family. There's a certain series of events that take place -- that ALWAYS take place without variation. First, the whole family goes out to dinner at a Chinese (HAS to be Chinese) restaurant, and then everyone goes home for presents, singing (YES .. STILL), pictures and cake.
Yes ... the cake. When we were little we used to pick out a cake at a bakery in Chinatown, and then pretend that we loved it because our dear parents had bought it for us. But let's face it. If you've ever had Chinatown cake, you'll know it's not something to write home about. Yes, it's very pretty. Sure, it's relatively inexpensive, and of course, they can write your grandma's name in Chinese upon request. But other than that, what is it really? Dry, flavourless sponge, canned fruits, and an very strange frosting that's oily, not sweet and leaves a funny coating in your mouth. To this day, I wonder what goes into that frosting..
For years and years we ate the cake and told ourselves that it was delicious. Then, one day, my sister and I decided that we had had enough. No more Chinatown cake. I was going to take it upon myself to MAKE everyone's birthday cake. I think the first one I made was for my partner in crime, my sister. It was a chocolately, moussey mess, but it sure tasted a whole lot better than Chinatown cake. And I'm proud to say that even as I've grown up, I still continue to take requests and bake everyone's birthday cake.
Yesterday my dear, sweet grandma turned 94, yes ninety-four, quatre-vingt-quatorze. 29 years ago, she left everything in her home country and flew thousands of miles to come and take care of my sister and I while our parents returned to work. She toilet-trained us, made us breakfast every morning, played the "groom" in our wedding games when my sister and I couldn't decide who would be the boy, and gave us unfaltering love in the way that only grandmas can do. I'm not sure if my grandma knows how much I love her and appreciate her (my Cantonese has gone downhill ever since my first day in kindergarten), but I hope she does, and I hope that she had a nice birthday yesterday. It was no different: dinner with everyone at a Chinese restaurant, home for presents, pictures .... and cake.
This year, it was a blueberry bottom cake scented with lime. I first saw a version of this cake at Everybody Likes Sandwiches and made it for my parents. I added lemon juice and zest instead of the vanilla and use blackberries as the original recipe calls for. This year, when I spotted 2 pints of blueberries (sadly non-local of course) in my parent's fridge and 10 limes that my Dad got on sale, I thought I'd switch up the original cake with these 2 new ingredients. It worked nicely, the lime giving the blueberries that little boost to make it taste totally tropical and not typical in the wacky month of March. The berries turned lovely and jammy and the cake was light and citrusy. And it pleased the crowd -- most importantly, it pleased my grandma. Happy Birthday, Poh-Poh!
Lime Scented Blueberry Cake
2 pints of blueberries
1/2 + 2 tablespoons of sugar
zest and juice of one lime
1/2 cup of margarine
1 large egg (or 2 tiny peewee eggs like I used)
1 cup of all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup of skim milk
1/4 cup of plain yogurt
1. Wash the blueberries and spread them out over a non-stick or buttered cake pan (6-8inches). Sprinke 2 tablespoons of sugar over it and add half the lime zest and juice. Toss around until everything is mixed and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, and rest of the lime juice and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream the margarine, sugar and the rest of the lime zest until smooth. Beat in the egg(s) until light and fluffy. Add the baking soda and salt and mix well.
4. Alternately add the sifted flour and the milk mixture to the egg mixture . Mix until blended -- careful not to overmix.
5. Pour the batter over the blueberries and spread it out evenly.
6. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the top is golden brown and the blueberries have just started to spill over the top of the cake.
7. Serve warm (although it's still delicious at room temperature).