This buttermilk huckleberry cake is as good as it looks, and what’s more, it’s super easy to make and not too sweet.
I have Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks to thank for this recipe. Heidi is not your typical vegetarian, and her cookbook Super Natural Every Day is not your typical vegetarian cooking. Yeah, I know, I am a hunter. I eat meat. But I like my fruits and veggies, too.
I first became aware of Heidi early on in my blogging career, when her stuff would show up in Google searches for the various odd ingredients I like to use: farro, whole oat groats, quinces, black kale, wild mushrooms. Her dishes have always been well-thought out, original, and tasty.
The other place where Heidi’s cooking shines is in her desserts, like this huckleberry cake. I really don’t like overly sweet desserts. And neither does she. Her buttermilk cake is a triumph — mildly sweet, tangy and tart from the fruit toppings. Plus, it will keep at room temperature for 4 days, covered loosely. Big bonus.
You should know that there is virtually no difference between a huckleberry cake and a blueberry cake; the berries are interchangeable. You could also use red huckleberries, too, which would be cool. Currants would also work, as would smaller gooseberries.
I use maple sugar in this cake because it adds a hint of maple, which I like a lot. But maple sugar can be hard to find and expensive, so if you can’t find it, use any brown sugar.
Cake flour makes this huckleberry cake better, but you can use all-purpose. The difference is in the crumb, the tenderness of the cake. Cake flour is, well… cakier.
This cake is prettier when made in a tart pan, but a regular 1 1/2-quart Pyrex or metal loaf pan, which is typically 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches also works. You can also put this mixture into muffin tins, but I also have a specific huckleberry muffins recipe that might be better for that.
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grained salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, full fat if possible
- 1/4 cup melted butter (not too hot)
- Grated zest of 2 lemons
- 3/4 cup huckleberries or blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 3 tablespoons maple sugar, or turbinado sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and make sure you have a rack near the top of the oven. Heat rises, remember? Butter and flour an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom or a cake pan and set aside.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Now, with one hand whisking the mixture, drizzle in the melted butter. You need to do this to keep the heat of the butter from scrambling the eggs.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, and mix just to combine. About halfway through the mixing, add the lemon zest and 1/2 cup of the huckleberries. Pour the batter into the pan and make sure it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the remaining huckleberries over the cake, then the maple sugar.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean out of the center of the cake. Gently remove the pan from the oven and set on a rack. Let this sit 5 minutes, then, very gently, pop the bottom up from the pan to free the cake, which will look like a large, flat muffin. If it sticks on the sides of the pan, use a knife to free the cake. Let the cake rest on the rack for 15 minutes before eating.