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Gertrude Noyes (aka, Nancy’s mom) made the most wonderful blueberry cake. Nothing fancy, mind you, but rather a fairly simple cake, dotted with sweet blueberries throughout and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Yummmmm. 🙂

“Gert’s Blueberry Cake” (Blueberry Cake) Nikon D300, 70mm, F/5.6, 1/50s, -0.7EV, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, -1.3EV

This delicious treat would usually arrive as a surprise on a Saturday or Sunday morning, still warm from the oven, the aroma of cinnamon filling the air. Didn’t matter if we’d already had our breakfast or not. Resistance was futile. 😉

Blueberry Anticipation

Years ago, I was fortunate to acquire the recipe from Nancy which I tucked neatly into my recipe binder. Starting in early August, blueberry memories began wafting into my brain and when I saw quarts of wild blueberries (the best kind) at a local farmstand, I knew I hadto make that cake! Therefore, on a bright Saturday morning, I gathered the ingredients and, following the recipe to the letter, happily anticipated the tasty results.

“Yes, Please” (Blueberry Cake Square) Nikon D300, 50mm, F/5.6, 1/15s, -0.3EV, ISO 640, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, Nik Color Efex Pro ‘Vignette Blur’ Filter

Hot from the oven, the cake looked and smelled divine. I put a pot on for tea while the cake cooled just a bit and impatiently waited for the moment when I could cut into my blueberry masterpiece. A good deep inhale of that cinnamon aroma and then, finally, that first bite.

Wait for it…wait for it…wait…damn. How could this be? Instead of the expected gastric euphoria, both hubby and I were, well, sadly disappointed. It wasn’t that the cake was bad, but it certainly wasn’t Gert’s. Something was missing. 😦

A couple of days later, I yelled over the fence, “Hey, Nancy! When your mom made her (famous) blueberry cake, did she use lard?” 

“No, she always used shortening.”

“No butter?”

“Nope. Never.”

“Huh. Well, I made the cake and it tasted… flat. And, it wasn’t as moist as hers. Did I over-bake it?”

“Hmmm, I doubt it. What did you use for milk?”

And, just like that, it hit me. You see, back in the day, milk was milk. There wasn’t 2%, 1% or skim, no lactose-free or soy or almond. When a recipe called for milk, it meant wholemilk. An item that is not regularly found in my icebox. Mystery solved. 🙂

“Spread” (Blueberry Cake Buffet) Nikon D300, 45mm, F/5.6, 1/50s, -0.3EV, ISO 640, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser

With new confidence in hand (and enough blueberries remaining), it was back to the kitchen to try again. In addition to using whole milk, I also made a few more tweaks to the recipe (we bakers just can’t resist can we? 😉 ).

For example, I like to grease and sugar my cake pans as it adds just a little extra sweetness that flour can not deliver. I also like to layer flavors, so instead of using plain white sugar and plain table salt, I substituted vanilla sugar and vanilla salt. I also used two kinds of vanilla extract since each adds their own bit of ‘something’ to the finished product.

When the timer went off, anticipation along with a bit of nervousness, swelled within me. I prepared the tea, gathered the plates, utensils and napkins, cut and served the slices and then waited for hubby to take the first bite. 

“Have a Bite” (Blueberry Cake) Nikon D300, 70mm, F/5.6, 1/100s, -0.7EV, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser


“It’s delicious.”

Woo hoo! 😀

Happily, Nancy concurred and it was a delightful Saturday morning, sipping tea and noshing on a (now) treasured family recipe, shared amongst good friends and remembering a cherub-faced Gert whom, I hope, I made proud.

Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that. 🙂


  1. Looks incredible, M.P!
    Must… Have… Cake…
    *wiping drool off chin*

    • Thanks, Sig! It is yummy and I so want some right now! 🙂

      Lemme get you a napkin before this gets embarrassing… 😉

  2. Um, might I be soooo impolite to ask IF you might share the recipe complete with your tweaks? Hmm? How else will the rest of us ever share the wonder?

    • Ha! I just finished typing up the ‘tweaked’ recipe and will send it to you via e-mail (just easier that way as it is nicely laid out in a PDF complete with photo).

      I had actually forgotten the other ‘tweaks’ I added…like substituting butter for some of the shortening and making the milk ‘sour’ (a trick I learnt from my grandmother). I hope it works well for you!

  3. Greasing and sugaring a pan! What a neat idea… but the sugar doesn’t melt and make a big mess to clean off the sides of the pan, does it? And I’ve never heard of vanilla sugar and salt. Very interesting. You remind me that I haven’t bought any local blueberries this year – and now I’ve probably missed them. Peaches too!

    • Thanks! 🙂

      Nope, the sugar doesn’t make a big mess to the pan. Cleans up easily with soapy water.

      I make my own vanilla sugar (toss used vanilla beans into a container of white sugar) and vanilla salt is readily available (I currenlty have a coarse kind in a grinder as well as a finishing version, which has a finer grain, for baking). For quite a few years now, I’ve been into cooking/baking with different salts (have well over a dozen kinds that I use regularly).

      I think local blueberry season was very short this year as I only came upon that one farmstand that had any wild blueberries for sale. I will need to investigate if frozen lowbush blueberries could be used.

  4. Oh and I meant to say looks fabulously delicious! 🙂

  5. Hopefully you have my email too!! 😉

    As I was reading about the not so good, then the really, really good cake and looking at the awesome photos I was hoping to find the recipe at the end… well, I enjoyed all of the above anyway!!

    • Ha! Yes, I have your e-mail and recipe is actually on its way.

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  6. I have to confess that I did NOT enjoy reading this post… No no no no no… as not only am I know craving cake, I also have to find some way of mopping the drool out from between my keys !!!…. Thanks for that… 😉

    • Oooops! So sorry ’bout that, Bri! 😉

      I can commisserate with you since I made this cake a few weeks back and when I was writing the post (and reliving the experience) all I wanted was that cake!

  7. From Gert’s daughter…thanks for the memory. It was delish! Next year we do have to pick those blueberries down the street!

    • Hi Nancy!!! 🙂

      Thank YOU and you’re so very welcome!

      YES!! we HAVE to do that next year for sure! (I mean, seriously, how lazy can we be? 😉 )

  8. Just getting ready to do a wild berry blog! Looks great.

  9. It does look good! Beautiful pictures too. I bet vanilla sugar tastes pretty good all on its own.

    • Thanks so much, Becky! 🙂

      Yes, it certainly does and the the vanilla salt is WONDERFUL on steamed veggies…

  10. Oh gosh. Pardon me while I drool over that cake. Wow. It looks and sounds yummy.

    • lol. Thanks, Robin! 🙂

      Now you understand all the napkins! 😉

  11. You sure you got it right? Make some more so I can taste it. 😀 I hope you wrote down all your tweaks so the next baker doesn’t have to guess. 😉 BTW, your photos made my mouth water. Ever put some ice cream on top?

    • Yes, I’m sure and YES, the recipe has all the tweaks and if anyone would like it, they simply need to send an email to me.

      Thanks Scott! I’m glad the photos did their job! Mouth-watering is GOOD! 🙂

      Funny you should ask about ice cream…the cake is WONDERFUL as a dessert. I used a 3″ round ring mold and added one layer of lemon sorbetto (sort of a mix between lemon sorbet and lemon ice cream) and one layer of homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Once unmolded, I cut the circle in half (for two servings) to create a half moon shape and served this alongside the cake with a drizzle of blueberry syrup. De-lish! 🙂

  12. Oh it looks delicious, as I’m sure it was! 🙂

    • Robert X. Jones
    • Posted September 8, 2011 at 12:34 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Cool food shots and it looks delish as well.

  13. Oh, that looks delicious!

  14. I think I’ll get my camera out the next time I cook dinner. It might take longer to finish, but your images are very inspiring.

    • My, what a lovely comment! You are so kind and it is very much appreciated! 🙂

  15. All shots are yummy. Third one is a classic.

    • Thanks much, Firasz! Made the cake again this past Saturday…totally yummy! 🙂

  16. Brilliant!! Never thought of sugaring pans instead of flouring them!!! This looks divine. I think I can smell it from here thanks to your lovely photos. 🙂
    *sigh* I miss wheat.

    • Thanks so much, KD!! Very sweet of you to say! 🙂

      So sorry about your wheat alergy. 😦 I bet this cake could be made with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour. (

      • I’m having a hard time with the “different” taste of Bob’s GF All-Purpose…I’m thinking I might try baking it with some Almond Flour though…. 🙂

      • Oooh, almond flour. That would be yummy!

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