Blueberry Tea Cake

Who hasn’t got dreamy memories of licking spoons and waiting expectantly by the oven to have yet another taste sensation? Sadly, now that we are so busy juggling work-family-life balances, treasured baking recipes, handed down through the generations, are a thing of the past. Baking, rather like letter-writing, has become something special, yet it doesn’t really need to be overly complicated. You can bake with few ingredients very successfully. A constant abundant supply of home-baked goodies isn’t realistic for most of us, but it’s a shame to miss out on the inherent joy of a homemade treat–an instant shortcut to a moment of domestic bliss.–Bill Granger

LC No Frosting Required Note

This lovely, lovely tea cake–a.k.a. dessert masquerading as breakfast or afternoon snack or anytime you crave something sweet–is so moist and perfectly balanced and just plain irresistible that it could do without the sweet-tart lilt of cream cheese frosting if you’re in a hurry. Author Granger suggests the time-pressed instead rely on a lemon drizzle, made by mixing a little lemon zest and the juice of a lemon into confectioners’ sugar and then, ahem, drizzling it over the cake.

Blueberry Tea Cake

Squares of blueberry tea cake topped with cream cheese frosting.
Bill Granger

Prep 15 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr
Dessert
British
10 to 12 servings
5 / 3 votes
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Ingredients 

For the cake

  • Heaping 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the baking dish
  • Heaping 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 pint (about 2 cups) fresh blueberries
  • Scant 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

For the frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (you can use that remaining 1 tablespoon for buttering the baking dish)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 16 ounces confectioners’ sugar

Directions
 

Make the blueberry tea cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper, allowing the excess paper to hang over the edge of the pan.
  • Combine the sour cream and baking soda and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then add the sour cream mixture and beat just until combined.
  • Place the blueberries in another bowl and toss with just a couple spoonfuls of the flour. Sift the rest of the flour over the butter mixture and sift the baking powder over the top. Gently fold just the dry ingredients together, then fold them into the batter, mixing just until combined. Gently fold the flour-coated blueberries into the batter, being mindful not to overmix.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, either by using the parchment paper as handles or by inverting the cake onto a wire rack and then inverting it again.
  • Frost the cooled blueberry tea cake, if desired, or serve it plain if you prefer.

Make the frosting

  • Beat all of the ingredients except the sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar and beat until smooth. Use immediately.
Print RecipeBuy the Feed Me Now! cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What a delicious cake! It was dense and moist, much like pound cake, and full of juicy blueberries in every bite. The lemon juice and zest in the cream cheese frosting put it over the top—what a subtle surprise in flavor.

The recipe was easy to follow, and I did blitz the granulated sugar in my blender. Instead of using parchment, I buttered and floured the pan, and frosted the cooled cake in it. (I thought it would travel better in the pan with a lid.) It came out of the pan perfectly. I’ll definitely make this again.

This has a well-balanced lemon and blueberry flavor, and a muffin-like crumb that makes a seriously nice afternoon cake. And a breakfast cake. Dessert, too.

Everything mixed up well, although I’m not sure why I couldn’t just mix the baking powder with the flour and sift it all together. The final batter was quite thick to the point of concern, having never made it before. But no worries, it all turned out fine. I used the parchment “handles” to pull the cake out of the pan, but it resisted until I gave it some persistent nudging. In retrospect, I might have flipped the cake, and then pulled the paper off.

Although I loved the cream cheese frosting, this cake is perfectly wonderful without it. If you’re on the fence—to frost or not to frost—I recommend making the frosting and eating it separately with a large spoon and a big smile.

This is a straightforward recipe for a rather low-rise cake filled with blueberries and great flavor. The lemon gives it just the right amount of counterpoint to the sugar, as well as to the sweetness of the berries themselves. My blueberries were huge, and it probably would’ve been better if they had been a bit smaller. I chose to not frost the cake, as I thought that might be overkill—and plus, I wasn’t sure about a cream cheese frosting on a tea cake. Which brings me to the next issue: what’s a tea cake? Around here, the designation falls to a semi-raised, cookie-type sweet. As it turns out in this recipe, it’s a sheet cake-type that yields “12 squares” rather than “12 slices.” But this is a small argument over a big treat. Make it, you’ll like it!

I loved this cake. It embodies the perfect blend of lemony, blueberry cake-ness, topped with a frosting that really was the icing on the cake. It was a snap to make, and I appreciated this being a 9-by-13 inch cake when it came to frosting—no layers to fiddle with. It was moist, light (I used nonfat sour cream in place of full-fat), and slightly dense, which I appreciated to support all the blueberries and the dollop of cream cheese icing on top. It’s a rich cake, but that didn’t keep me from eating a few pieces.

Originally published June 09, 2011

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Comments

  1. Ayyy…. Bill Granger! He was never formally trained as a chef, so pretty much everything he makes is very approachable. And very, very fresh. I lived close to one of his cafes in Sydney for several years and enjoyed many a breakfast there. He really shines when he makes breakfast! I’m smiling at the idea to put frosting on this tea cake. We would give every Australian a heart attack at the mere thought! 🙂 We love our sugar in this country… 

    I had a friend bring over _Feed Me Now_ and _Bill’s Basics_ back in November when she came to visit from Australia, but I honestly still think _Sydney Food_ is his best cookbook. It has all his recipes that really showcase who he is as a chef. Yum. Now I need to go make his ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter or his corn fritters with avocado for breakfast!

    1. Seems we both have a wee crush on Bill, Julia. Words can’t express my envy at your proximity to the cafe. Yes, love the simple, approachable, unexpectedness of his creations. And thanks for the reminder about those corn fritters…I dare say I’ll be making those this weekend.

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