I am reminiscing. I found these pictures on my hard drive and remembered a moment... so, if you would, humour me?
I've been baking since I was very little. My first scar, still visible, just above my belly button, was obtained by anxiously leaning over a baking sheet. I have no idea how old I was. Clearly, I was young enough to run around the house with my shirt off and not raise any eyebrows.
My mother, bless her, does not share my passion for the kitchen. As soon as she figured out that I could make my own food, she happily scaled back her efforts and let me pitch in. I remember cooking my first family dinner at around age 7. Sure, it was a box of Hamburger Helper... but to me, it was a big deal.
I always felt a little sorry for my dad, having a wife who didn't really like to cook or bake. Grandma was always baking cookies and cakes and pies and doughnuts, and I imagined my grandpa really liked that. So, when she died, I took over those duties for my family. It was never a conscious effort - it was just something I did because I wanted to do it.
Then, more than 10 years later, after college and career and a good bit of growing up, my parents came to visit me in Atlanta. They were helping me pack up my life and move it into a storage unit, so I could embark on this crazy dream of mine in Europe. The last thing I ever baked in my oven in my apartment in Atlanta was this blueberry buckle, which we ate while having coffee and packing and moving and painting. When it was all said and done, we stood outside my apartment, now empty and white-again, my father holding tupperware which contained the leftovers of this cake. He said, plainly, that it was the best thing I'd ever made (though, to be fair, my father says everything plainly, to avoid the awkwardness of being misunderstood). It felt like quite an accomplishment, and the moment was a little emotional for me -- but that might have had more to do with my impending terrifying/exciting/omg-what-am-I-doing move to another continent than it did with this cake. But this will always be that cake, my farewell to Atlanta cake... the best cake I ever made.
Oh, right, I haven't actually described the cake! If you have a bunch of blueberries, you should definitely make it. It's really fluffy, lightly ginger-spiced, with a softly delicate crumb. The top is crunchy and differently-spiced than the cake (nutmeg, ooh!), which is super cool. It's awesome. Trust my daddy when he says so.
recipe by Alton Brown
For the cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
255g cake flour, approximately 2 cups
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
55g (2 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
150g sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
1 large egg
120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
425g (15 ounces) fresh whole blueberries, approximately 3 cups
For the topping:
100g sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
45g ounces cake flour, approximately 1/3 cup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
55g (2 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Grease a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.
Beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, approximately 30 seconds. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated and then add 1/3 of the milk and beat until incorporated. Repeat, alternating flour and milk until everything has combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.