Summer Blues

Don’t let their tiny size fool you: When it comes to health benefits, blueberries are proof that good things really do come in small packages. They’re low in fat and sodium, have just 80 calories per cup and contain a category of phytonutrients called polyphenols.

Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and are high in manganese. Vitamin C is necessary for growth and development of tissues and promotes wound healing. Manganese helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein. Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber and may reduce the risk of heart disease.

While blueberries are available all year nowadays, nothing compares to eating locally grown fruit at the height of its growing season. July blueberries are plump, sweet, and just bursting with flavor; you don’t get a box filled with tiny sour bites!

Keeping blueberries beautifully blue in baked goods or smoothies requires maintaining proper pH levels. Blueberries turn reddish when exposed to acids like lemon juice and vinegar. Blueberries turn greenish-blue in a batter that has too much baking soda or grey in a smoothie with a lot of dairy, which creates an alkaline environment. Be careful when measuring your ingredients to keep the color vibrant.

Have you ever noticed that in muffins and other baked goods, fresh and frozen blueberries can easily sink to the bottom of the pan? One reason blueberries sink is because the batter may be too thin. This is easy to remedy by coating blueberries with flour before stirring them into your batter.

Blueberry Buckle

For the cake:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 ounces margarine, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup orange juice

3 cups blueberries, washed and dried gently

For the topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 ounces margarine (half a stick) cut in cubes

Another reason might be that too much air has been incorporated into the batter; avoid overmixing any cake batter. Add the blueberries only at the end of mixing to keep from breaking the berries and turning the whole cake blue.

If you’re using frozen blueberries — but really, why would you? — add them before they have a chance to thaw and bake your dish immediately to prevent color leaching and streaking.

This works with a variety of fruits, but blueberries look very pretty suspended in cake batter!

Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside. Glass or metal are fine but avoid using a disposable pan. Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat together the margarine and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated and then add 1/3 of the juice and beat until incorporated. Repeat, alternating flour and juice until everything has combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

For the topping:

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the margarine and work into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender 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.

Blueberry Corn Muffins

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup corn meal

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup low-fat milk

4 oz. (1/2 stick) butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease and flour 12 muffin cups and set aside.

Stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and soda until completely combined. In a small bowl, mix together milk, butter and egg. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients just until moistened. Do not overmix. Fold blueberries into the batter.

Place batter into the prepared muffin cups using an ice cream scoop. Bake 15–20 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool a few minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

Muffins are best eaten within a day of baking. They also keep well in the freezer and will defrost quickly.

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.