High Country Baking: Blueberry Poppyseed Cake

High altitudes cause cookies to spill in the pan, cakes to fall, and few baked goods turn out like they do at sea level. This bi-monthly column features recipes and tips that make baking a success at the mountain.

This cake is a baking queen… Winner of the grand prize at 34e Pillsbury Bake-Off and then famed cookbook author and food columnist Marian Burros published it in The New York Times, where a slew of bakers gave it five stars, the highest possible rating. With endorsements like that, I had to try. And, after making changes for high attitude, a few other minor changes, and adding more detail to the instructions, I’m passing them on to you.

“Cake” is almost a misnomer for this beauty. To make it, cake batter is used to create a soft, bowl-shaped crust that contains sweet blueberries, so it’s as much a pie or galette as it is a cake. Anyway, it’s easy to prepare. There’s just one thing to keep in mind: to create the container that holds the berries, you’ll push some of the cake batter up the sides of the pan. When you do this, make sure the wall of dough you are forming is no thicker than ¼ inch or the crust could lose its nice texture and be dry and dense.

Blueberry poppy seed cake

Adjusted for altitudes of 7,000 feet and above

Bake in a 9.5 inch shiny metal springform pan


  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, preferably super fine
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream


  • 2 cups of fresh blueberries
  • ¼ – ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, optional

Frosting, (optional)

  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons whole milk or lemon juice

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Unlock the sides of your springform pan, remove the bottom and flip it over so the lip is facing down, then lock it back in place. This will make it easier to cut and/or remove the baked cake from the pan. Grease pan with cooking spray containing flour and set aside.

Prepare the cake batter: Add flour, poppy seeds, baking soda and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine well, set aside. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add lemon zest and egg and beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Beating on low speed, add flour mixture alternately with sour cream (3 additions of flour, 2 additions of sour cream) until a thick batter forms. Spread the batter over the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan, making the batter on the sides ¼ inch thick.

Make the filling: Test the sweetness of your blueberries, if they are sweet, use the smallest amount of sugar. In a medium bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients and stir with your clean hands or a silicone spatula, until all the berries are coated in the sugar and flour and the berries have softened and become a little soft. little decomposed. Pour the filling over the dough in the center of the pan, covering it completely.

4. Bake the cake: Place the pan in the oven and bake until the crust has risen and is lightly browned and the berries are cooked through and tender, start checking at 30 minutes, although this may take longer. Do not overbake or the cake will become dry.

Chill and serve: Place cake on wire rack, cool 15-20 minutes, until warm but warmer to the touch, remove sides of pan, then cool completely. Garnish with a handful of fresh blueberries, if desired. If you’re icing it, whisk in the milk/lemon juice and slowly add enough icing sugar until the mixture thickens and is smooth but still slides easily off a spoon. Drizzle it over the top of the cake but don’t put too much on the berries or the center of the cake will get soggy. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

This recipe is a variation of the one published on the NYTCooking website.