Maine wild blueberries are tiny, usually smaller than peas. Violet and I have been eating them by the quart this summer. They are sweet, never tart, and have a gentle mellowness other berries lack. Driving through Maine at this time of year – high summer – you will find wild blueberries for sale outside everywhere. At roadside tables, farmstands, in neighbors’ front yards. You can also pick your own, if you are so intrepid. They are fleeting, a delicate delicacy, get them while you can. They are perfect for snacking and I love baking with low bush blueberries, too.
Summer is ending, not yet, but you can feel it in the wind. Baking with blueberries reminds of me of my favorite young adult novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, a book I reread every autumn. In it, a widowed, half-senile woman, a Quaker, who is commonly considered a witch by the Puritan population of the 17th century Connecticut colony, shares what little she has – blueberry corn cakes and warm goats milk – with two new reluctant and rebellious friends and a basket of kittens in her small, scrubbed kitchen in a cottage on the edge of town. Share this New England pudding cake with friends, young and old on a lovely August afternoon.
- ½ stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1½ cups Maine wild blueberries
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 325 and prepare a deep pie dish by greasing with butter. In a blender or food processor, whiz up melted butter, buttermilk, ½ the sugar, egg yolks, flour and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whip egg whites into soft peaks. Add the remainder of the sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Gently but thoroughly fold egg whites into batter. Fold in blueberries. Pour into prepared dish. Sit pie dish in a larger baking pan filled with water. Bake for 50 minutes, until the top is browned and the enter of the cake is a little jiggly. Cool on a baking rack, then cover and place in fridge for 2-3 hours. Keep this pudding cake refrigerated.