old-fashioned blueberry cake. molasses marries blueberries in this unsweetened love affair. the texture: moist, delicate, heavy. the flavor: unexpected. the look of the cake, chocolaty and dense, misleads the senses. instead, the heavy tang of the molasses is undercut only by the pouches of sweet michigan blueberries pulled from their frozen slumber. i must admit, a solid half of my roommates disliked this cake because of such strong bitterness. this, of course, was pre-remedial treatment (pre-icing).

the day after baking this cake, i  brought a large slice (nude, pure, untouched but by a dusting of powdered sugar) into work, to my friend patrick. now patrick is not the biggest fan of sweet, and so i consulted his expertise in the matters of this cake. and he liked it. as i somehow expected, he really enjoyed the tang, the bitter of this cake. but, what was i to do to offset the grandiose distaste witnessed by two of my roommates who called this creation bitter and unsatisfying? there was so much going for this cake. i mean, moisture is fantastic. together, we discussed ways to make it more appealing to the general populace. we decided pairing it with coffee or a porter would compliment the bitter while providing a sweet. 

and then, i had it. but of course! a porter cream-cheese icing! and that just did the trick. the slight bitter and overall sweet joined the sharpness of the cake with a lovely balance. 

part of the struggle here was my choice in molasses. i learned that blackstrap molasses is more of a health supplement than a baking ingredient. but, paired with the icing (and honestly, even without the icing but with an open mind), this cake’s a winner.

tangy molasses blueberry cake
(adapted from old fashioned blueberry cake)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour (half whole wheat pastry half all-purpose unbleached)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (used braggs)
5 tablespoons milk (skim, divided)
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses (used blackstrap, recommed a milder molasses for folks who aren’t fond of the bitter)
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, barely melted

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (i had frozen berries from the summer)
1 teaspoon flour

powdered sugar or porter cream cheese icing to calm the bitter

1. preheat oven to 350. butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
2. in large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. in small bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar with 3 tablespoons of milk.
4. in separate bowl, whisk molasses with remaining 2 tablespoons of milk.

5. whisk apple cider vinegar mixture with molasses mixture and whisk in eggs.
6. pour wet ingredients in a well in the dry, incorporate until just mixed. stir in butter.
7. toss blueberries with remaining teaspoon of flour. fold into batter.

8. pour batter into cake pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with porter cream cheese icing, recipe below.


porter cream cheese icing

8 oz cream cheese
4 teaspoons porter beer
4 cups (roughly) powdered sugar
(i made a small batch of this as i had already eaten 1/2 the cake upon creating this recipe, adapting a classic cream cheese icing to include the porter)

whisk ingredients together until smooth. top the cake.