summer blueberry cake bite

Summer blueberry cake (and a blogiversary giveaway)

24 July 2015

I’m celebrating today – five years here at chinese grandma. 5! A full handful of years.

We’ve had good eats together, made discoveries, wondered and laughed. I’ve had exiting moments in this blogging adventure – the Kitchn!, Saveur! – and it’s been a joy share with you here and have you share back with me.

But in this half-decade, life also got real. You guys were with me when I turned 40; when I lost my dad and my dad-in-law; when I had a shoot-me-now health year with raging eczema followed by shingles; when I’ve had pangs of midlife angst.

Your quiet listening has helped me through. I started this blog as a restless at-home mom of four, desperate to construct a virtual room of my own. Staking out this space to create, to think and to learn has given me calm. Writing here is like a meditation – an opportunity for me to step back, analyze, digest and breathe.

I had four little people when this all started – aged 1 to 8 – and now they are 6 to 13, half-grown to grinning down at me. I no longer fantasize about my phantom life, my independent pre-parenthood existence. Instead I am incredulous that I am on the flip side, nearing again a house without the boisterous activity of kids.

I wish I could say five years of blogging has made me a smooth pro, but I can’t. Sometimes I’m bursting to share something fresh and cool with you. More often I go through a comical cycle of despair, rejected attempts and insecurity until I slowly, finally get to something I think might be worth reading.

Some posts connect with you more than others, and I can never predict which – I just launch my little word vessels, built to the best of my ability, and enjoy the brief satisfaction of completion before getting to work on the next.

Five years here and 43 years of living have taught me one thing for certain about this earthly life: it’s about getting up, trying our best, learning with honesty and humility, and getting up again. This is how the game is played. If we don’t make the effort, we atrophy. If we ignore lessons, we get stuck on repeat.

So I keep at it, for better and worse, and I love it. When something connects with you, or when you love a recipe I’ve shared, I am grateful to my toes.

I am thrilled to celebrate five years at chinese grandma with you all, and I am sending you squeezy hugs and high fives and fist bumps.

Oh, and cake! Buttery, blueberry-y blogiversary cake.

You guys have seen this cake before here – with plums then pears – but I am glad I remembered it for berry season, because it makes such a fantastic base for the fat prime blueberries out now. I figure that if the New York Times saw fit to publish Marian Burros’s recipe annually for 24 years straight, three times isn’t too much for us.

This blueberry-nutmeg take on Marian’s classic is from my friend Cheryl‘s book Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables. If you don’t have nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom would be good with blueberries too.

This recipe is so easy even my mom, who can never remember where she put down her cell phone, has it memorized. Start with sugar and butter, which gets sticky soft quickly this time of year.

butter sugar

Mixing gets even easier once you add the eggs. It’s not a huge amount of batter, so an old-school fork will do just fine for mixing.

creaming butter sugar eggs

No one recommends this – it’s not for perfectionists – but between you and me, you can add the flour, topped with baking powder and nutmeg (plus salt if your butter is unsalted), and swirl just the dry ingredients briefly before you stir them into the wet ingredients. As long as you don’t have clumps of baking powder, nutmeg or salt, lightning will not strike you dead.

flour baking powder nutmeg

The finished batter is thick. Fret not.

cake batter

Smooth it into the pan.

batter in cake pan

Mix the blueberries with a little more sugar and nutmeg. And yes, I am reusing my well-scraped batter bowl (not photogenic, but efficient).

blueberries sugar nutmeg

An 8-inch pan is the tightest workable fit; a 9- or 10-inch pan will make a flatter cake.

summer blueberry cake

Powdered sugar, if you like.

slicing summer blueberry cake

It’s hard to beat the minimalist brilliance of this cake: made with the most basic ingredients and barest equipment, pretty without additional decoration, equally great made fresh or a day ahead. The simple, soft, buttery sweetness is an ideal base for any fruit you want to feature.

summer blueberry cake slice

Happy blogiversary! Cheers to you guys, who make this all possible.

summer blueberry cake bite

And the giveaway! I thought it would be fun to feature cookbooks of three of my amazing Saveur-nominated blogging friends, all released in the last year and all inspiring, practical additions to any cookbook library. Winners can choose the one that calls out most to try:

Rose Water and Orange Blossoms: Fresh & Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen – Lovely Maureen with fresh, gorgeous Lebanese recipes from her Michigan kitchen (recently featured in the New York Times!).


Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake, Sip, and Chill the World’s Creamiest, Healthiest Food – I’ve raved before about Cheryl‘s deliciously dreamy book and my infatuation with her labneh party spread.


Food Truck Road Trip: More Than 100 Recipes Collected from the Best Street Food Vendors Coast to CoastKim and Phil are constantly traveling and eating to find the best food, and their peripatetic Instagram feed keeps me salivating with envy.

food truck road trip

Five winners for five years! Share some thoughts in the comment box below – favorite recipes, ideas to consider, any feedback – and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll pick names at random end of day Tuesday, July 28 and contact winners by email.

I feel like everyone is blissed out on the beach this time of year, so those who enter should have a good shot to score some delicious summer reading. Best of luck!

Summer Blueberry Cake
Marian Burros’s fruit torte is one of my all-time favorite recipes, so I knew I’d love this blueberry-nutmeg variation from the wonderful Cheryl Sternman Rule. Heavy on the blueberries, it’s a picturesque, buttery delight to feature summer’s freshest.

Cake ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 pint) fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a springform or cake pan (8, 9 or 10 inches).
  2. Cream sugar and butter in a bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and mix thoroughly. Spoon the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
  3. Mix blueberries with sugar and nutmeg. Pour over batter and gently even out the layer of blueberries.
  4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes (smaller pan/thicker cake will take longer), until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool to lukewarm, and serve.

Makes 8 servings.


  • If you prefer less sweet, you can cut the sugar to 2/3 cup. But it’s hard to argue with Marian’s tried and true proportions.
  • Nutmeg substitutes: try cinnamon or cardamom, or nothing at all. I find vanilla extract detracts from the simple buttery sweetness of the cake.
  • Marian’s original recipe called for fresh Italian prune plums; in addition to berries, this versatile cake base also works beautifully with sliced peaches, apples or pears depending on season.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

ff 24 July 2015 at 8:06 am

I just put this cake in the oven but topped with fresh white peaches; we are looking forward to this for lunch. Thanks for the recipe.


cg 24 July 2015 at 8:29 am

ff, you are a speed demon! i’m impressed. =)


Gail 24 July 2015 at 8:08 am

Thank you for the giveaway – love reading your posts – Happy Anniversay!


Marilee Reyes 24 July 2015 at 8:12 am

When you live in Oregon loving blueberries is pretty much a given, and they are wonderful right now, plump and juicy, and this cake is just the thing. I also like the idea of making it with peaches. So, blueberries this weekend and peaches mid-week. I just recently discovered your blog and have been working my way through back postings. Congratulations on your anniversary and keep up the great work, and if I were to win your giveaway I think I would like the Rosewater and Orange blossoms book. Thanks for the opportunity.


Mary 24 July 2015 at 8:40 am

Leaving for the beach, but took the butter and eggs out of the fridge so I can be all set when I get back later. Hoping for a nice dessert watching the sunset this evening…


Janet Miller 24 July 2015 at 8:44 am

Your blog is such a delight! It is a favorite of mine especially since you too are a Bay Area resident and feel like a neighbor. Your posts are warm, real and honest, just like your recipes. I look forward to the next 5 years with you?. The Rosewater & Orange Blossoms book sounds divine! I would love to read that by the pool. I need to cook and bake with oranges more…my huge lemon tree keeps me pigeon-holed in the citrus department. Time to break out. Have never used Rosewater, so that sounds adventuresome! Thank you!!!


Julie 24 July 2015 at 9:14 am

This recipe looks wonderful! Did you use unsalted or salted butter?


cg 24 July 2015 at 9:19 am

hi julie – either works; just add 1/4 teaspoon salt if you are using unsalted. with salted butter you won’t need additional salt. good luck!


BK 24 July 2015 at 9:20 am

Congrats on 5 great years CG!! So much wisdom and nourishment wrapped up in your hundreds of posts. Keep them coming, love all of them. 🙂 p.s. All 3 cookbooks look fantastic.


Linda 24 July 2015 at 9:31 am

Your blog is such a gift – thank you!!! I can tell this cake is destined to become a classic in my kitchen. Just bought some beautiful organic blueberries, so I will be making this tomorrow. I have precious Lebanese friends that are truly family, so Maureen’s Rose Water and Orange Blossoms would be an amazing win!


Betsy 24 July 2015 at 10:01 am

Wow, this cake looks great. Always looking for a simple blueberry delivery device. Some homemade whipped cream would be great on top.


Lingling 24 July 2015 at 10:07 am

Happy 5 years! Your blog is about to start kindergarten! 🙂 Congratulations, and please keep blogging. You are my go to recipe index and encouraging voice of wisdom. After all, where else can a veggie loving new mom obtain a roasted fennel recipe and the insight that kids do grow and I will sleep possibly sleep again?


Allison 24 July 2015 at 10:42 am

Happy Anniversary! As an American born Chinese, your blog is refreshing and full of wonderful surprises each edition! I loved touring your kitchen and am so thankful to receive your recipes. I love your Mom’s BBQ sauce (with hoisin) and so many others. I love to cook, and your blog makes me want to try something new, right now! Congratulations.


Lily 24 July 2015 at 10:49 am

Congrats on five years, CG! I have loved reading every post and I look forward to many, many more.


Cheryl 24 July 2015 at 11:13 am

Happy, happy, happy blog anniversary, and thank you for honoring me in this way! xoxo


Joan 24 July 2015 at 11:36 am

Happy Birthday CG!

I just found your blog today when I was looking for a recipe. I’ve enjoyed a few of your posts this morning and look forward to reading more.

Best wishes from Greenwood, ON, Canada


Karen Fingerman 24 July 2015 at 1:40 pm

Happy Anniversary! I feel so fortunate to have found your blog posts. I love your recipes and pearls of wisdom.


Gina B. 24 July 2015 at 1:55 pm

Making this cake tomorrow for a bbq, love blueberries and your blog. Congrats on your anniversary!!!


Lisa 24 July 2015 at 2:11 pm

Dude. I am so winning a free book.
Congrats on 5 years! xoxo from 4 of your favorite fans


Alison H. 24 July 2015 at 4:28 pm

Thanks for the giveaway! Love your blog!


Carol 24 July 2015 at 5:31 pm

I lust after your kitchen and will be using some of your elements As we begin renovations this fall.


Debbie 24 July 2015 at 5:35 pm

Your writing resonates with me and your recipes are delicious. Congratulations on 5 years of connecting with people- quite a milestone. I enjoy reading each post and seeing what’s going on in your life.


Selina 24 July 2015 at 6:38 pm

I simply love reading your blog. It’s wonderful to know that someone relates to me and know what it’s like to be Chinese American, losing a parent, and to raise young children. Your blog is insightful and I love your recipes. Thank you!


Michelle 24 July 2015 at 10:42 pm

Found your blog web surfing for kid friendly recipes. Can relate to many of your posts. Love the simplicity this recipe.


Antoinette 25 July 2015 at 4:13 am

Yum! Enjoyed reading your thoughts. I bake the same way!


Jan 25 July 2015 at 6:12 am

Happy anniversary! Not sure how I stumbled upon your blog, but thoroughly enjoy it.


Anne 25 July 2015 at 9:47 am

Mmmm…I love fruit-based cakes. I will have to try this one soon. I came to your blog for the salad dressing and stayed around for all the other recipes. Your quinoa salad has always been a big hit with everyone I’ve shared it with. It’s one of my go to recipes for summer. Happy anniversary.


Lisa Sellers 25 July 2015 at 10:02 am

Payton, my 10 year old daughter, just finished a week of cooking class, desserts only of course, so I’ll share this recipe with her today so she can make it. We’ll take it to a dinner party – wish us luck!


cg 25 July 2015 at 10:10 am

go payton – she is such a superstar!! xoxo


CathyAnn 25 July 2015 at 10:49 am

Love your philosophy, your kitchen ways, your blog is my favorite for your heartfelt sharing, so down to earth, and true.
Thank you for giving us recipes, a bonus!


Christine 25 July 2015 at 2:25 pm

I love your blog and look forward to your posts. Your blog is one of my go to sites when I am looking for a new recipe to try. Last week I went blackberry picking with my kids and found your blackberry cobbler recipe. We all loved it. I enjoy your posts about life as I am at a similar stage. Your posts about loss were insightful and I appreciated your sharing those sentiments. Happy five years and keep blogging! P.s. I have been making Marian Burros’s plum torte for many years and have never made it with blueberries, but now I will.


Barbara 26 July 2015 at 7:31 am

I love your blog. It’s always a treat to find a “new posting’ message in my in-box. I found you when I was searching for info on “wide plank floors” and stayed for the yummy recipes and your warm writing style. I have made most of your salads and dressings, kung pao chicken, just made the jalapeno dip with greek yogurt and yes! it was dinner, and lunch the next day — your recipes are so practical, wholesome and delicious. Thanks for writing for the past 5 years, and hope you continue for many more. (Also have enjoyed your gift ideas, and home-keeping suggestions. Love my Never-M-T dish soap gadget!


Carolsue 26 July 2015 at 1:31 pm

I am so happy I found your blog! The recipes are wonderful — and that blueberry cake is to die for. It got pinned onto my Pinterest board immediately!


Nicole 26 July 2015 at 10:58 pm

I never cared for pecan pie until I tried your version, and then it usurped apple’s position at the table from that moment on. And I actually just used the recipe this weekend; it felt odd to break it out in July, but I had a very specific request for it, so I couldn’t disappoint. It was delicious as always. Thank you for a wonderful blog and solid, no-fuss recipes!


suzy 27 July 2015 at 10:10 am

Whenever I’m having a friends over I turn to your blog first for inspiration. All your recipes are simple, healthy and delicious…and most are perfect for a crowd. Keep doing what you do!


Hilary 27 July 2015 at 4:21 pm

I enjoy your insights, your discoveries and your recommendations for gifts for children at Christmastime (I have 4 grandchildren). Oh and the recipes too of course!! Thanks.


Susan M 27 July 2015 at 10:55 pm

Looks good! You make it look so easy. Do you ever bake gluten free?


Heather 28 July 2015 at 12:11 pm

Happy Anniversary! Thanks for the recipes and inspiration over the years! I’ve made a bunch of your recipes and never been disappointed. Just took the blueberry cake out of the oven. I subbed cardamon for nutmeg–I’m sure it’ll be delish.


Hannah 28 July 2015 at 2:10 pm

Happy anniversary! Your articles always are so insightful and beautifully written. Your recipes are so easily followed : I’ve made your stir fry string beans several times with success.


Malia 28 July 2015 at 2:14 pm

Can’t wait to try yesterday your blueberry cake with my granddaughter . Happy anniversary and blessings to you!


patti 28 July 2015 at 3:15 pm

Have loved watching you put so much time, effort, and love into your blog! As you know, I brag about it all the time and let people know you
have the best recipes and fantastic writing skills. I’m very proud of you. HAPPY 5th ANNIVERSARY and congratulations. ???


Gail 29 July 2015 at 8:23 am

I found you through your kitchen and I have been reading..and enjoying…your blog ever since. Congratulations!


Misscalimommy 29 July 2015 at 5:37 pm

I know I’m late for the giveaway but wanted to wish you congratulations on 5 years! I view you and your blog as a trusted, steadfast, and thought-full friend. Wishing you many more delicious years!


Brooke 8 August 2015 at 4:58 pm

I’ve been one of those “blissed out on a beach” but had to congratulate you on 5 years of fantastic blogs. I am pretty sure you know that I am one of your biggest fans CG. Thanks for all of your quiet wisdom. It is much appreciated, and so are your delicious recipes. xoxo


Becky 13 August 2015 at 5:38 am

Just made this last night for my family of 5 (3 kids:ages 8, 10, 12). It was simple to make and delicious. I’m not much of a baker (to my family’s chagrin) and do not eat much sweets- but my family sure does. Only problem is …we are big eaters. Maybe this cake makes 8 serving for normal-sized appetites. We finished the cake in one sitting and they were pining for more. Will have to make a double batch next time.


Yuen Shan 17 August 2015 at 4:56 am

Hello! I was surfing the internet and stumbled on to your blog. I read some of your blog posts and just want to say that I like your writing style! Congratulations on the 5 year anniversary of blogging 🙂


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: