There are two types of cake that I will serve at breakfast: streusel-topped coffee cakes and moist, fruit-laden cakes. The fruity cakes could certainly be considered as dessert options, but when cakes are loaded with fruit I tend to feel that they don’t need frosting and that frosting-less cakes are very valid breakfast options (even though they’re still technically cake). This Blueberry Lemon Brunch Cake is packed with fresh blueberries and bright lemon zest, both flavors that are welcome at my brunch table!
The cake starts with a buttermilk cake batter that is flavored with lots of lemon zest. While I could have added lemon juice to the batter, I decided not to in order to give the cake a richer crumb. Since there is lots of lemon oil in the lemon zest, you’ll get plenty of flavor from the zest alone. I did use two whole lemons (medium sized lemons) for the zest, so be sure to pick up two and save the zested lemons for juicing later on by storing them in the fridge. The blueberries are folded into the batter just before baking. Some may sink to the bottom of the cake, but as long as you’ve greased your pan or lined it with parchment paper, the cake slices will come out neatly with the berries perfectly intact.
The cake is very moist and tender, more cake-like than a blueberry muffin, but with flavors that you’re more likely to find in a muffin than in a cake. I topped the cake with a very generous sprinkle of sugar before baking to give it a nice crisp top crust and to add a little additional sweetness to the cake. If you have a favorite streusel recipe, you can certainly sprinkle that on top instead of the sugar to turn this easy cake into a full fledged coffee cake.
As usual, you can use frozen blueberries in this cake recipe if that is what you have on hand. If you are using frozen berries, I recommend using them from frozen and not letting them thaw before folding them into the batter to prevent the berry juice from running into the rest of the cake. Your cake might also need an additional minute or so of baking time, especially if you opt to be generous when you measure out the berries (as I sometimes am!). Fresh blueberries are best when they are in season, so keep this recipe in mind the next time you buy a basket from your local grocery store or farmers’ market.
Blueberry Lemon Brunch Cake
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp lemon zest (2 lemons)
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan or line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and lemon zest. Add in dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour in melted butter and whisk until butter is completely incorporated. Fold in blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the top of the cake with coarse sugar.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Allow cake to cool in the pan until almost room temperature (or at room temperature) before slicing.