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The Blues Are Back

June 05, 2002|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The first blueberries of the summer always seem to be best, extremely firm and tart. Those are the berries I like to cook with most. They give a much-needed lift to all kinds of baked goods, from pies and pancakes to muffins and cakes.

This is also the time to freeze them, so you have them for the rest of the year. It's not necessary to thaw frozen berries before mixing them in a recipe, just allow a fraction longer to bake or cook the dish. Just don't thaw them and use them raw--they become mushy as they thaw.

To freeze blueberries, spread them on a jellyroll pan and sort through to discard stems and leaves and any soft or shriveled berries. Place them in the freezer until they're hard, about 2 hours. Pile them into a plastic food bag, seal it airtight and then enclose that bag inside another airtight plastic bag. Give them a rinse before using.

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Lemon-Glazed Blueberry Bundt Cake

Active Work Time: 20 minutes Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This can be made a day ahead. Store the cake at room temperature, covered airtight. The cake does not freeze well.

LEMON-BLUEBERRY CAKE

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing pan

3 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for preparing pan

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

Grated zest of 2 large lemons

3 eggs

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1/4 cup buttermilk, shaken well

2 1/2 cups blueberries tossed with 3 tablespoons cake flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup bundt pan. Coat the inside lightly with flour and tap out the excess.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of wax paper; set aside.

Cream the sugar, butter and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and lemon extract. Beat 3 minutes (the mixture will become thick and smooth). Add the sifted dry ingredients and buttermilk. Mix well to combine. Use a spoon or spatula to stir the floured blueberries into the batter; the batter will be very thick. Transfer the batter to the pan and bang it on the counter to settle. Smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool on a rack 10 minutes, then gently invert the cake onto the rack. Place the rack on a baking sheet and brush on the glaze. Cool completely before serving.

TART LEMON GLAZE

1 cup powdered sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

Place the sugar and lemon zest in a blender or food processor and blend until the zest is finely minced. Add the butter, lemon juice and salt and blend until smooth.

Brush the cake with the glaze while still warm, reapplying the glaze as it drips onto the baking sheet.

12 to 16 servings. Each of 16 servings: 389 calories; 259 mg sodium; 78 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 59 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 1.30 grams fiber.

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Wheat Germ Blueberry Pancakes Active Work Time: 40 minutes Total Preparation Time: 40 minutes

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2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, plus more for cooking

1 1/3 cups buttermilk, shaken well

2 tablespoons light sour cream

2 eggs

1 cup cake flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups blueberries

Warm maple syrup, for serving

Whisk together the 2 tablespoons butter, buttermilk, sour cream and eggs until smooth. Stir in the flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking soda and salt. (You can make the batter a day ahead and refrigerate it. Stir before using.)

Heat a griddle over medium heat; brush with some more melted butter. Pour the batter onto the griddle in 3-inch rounds. Sprinkle about 5 berries on each.

Cook the pancakes until bubbly and browned around the edges, about 4 minutes. Use a metal spatula to turn and brown the other side, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Keep the cooked pancakes warm in a 200-degree oven while the remaining pancakes are cooked, brushing the griddle with more butter as needed. Serve hot with warm maple syrup.

3 to 4 servings. Each of 4 servings: 347 calories; 566 mg sodium; 125 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 52 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams protein; 3 grams fiber.

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Blueberry 'Pie' Sundaes

Active Work Time: 5 minutes Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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4 cups blueberries, divided

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, depending on sweetness of berries

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon minute tapioca

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Vanilla, raspberry or caramel ice cream or yogurt, for serving

Place 3 cups blueberries in a nonreactive saucepan. Stir in the sugar, maple syrup, tapioca, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt. Let rest 15 minutes.

Cook over medium heat until thick but still sauce-like, about 9 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter until melted, then add the remaining blueberries. (This can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated. To serve, gently reheat the sauce in a microwave oven until very warm but not bubbling.)

Spoon about 1/4 of the sauce over each serving of ice cream or yogurt.

8 servings. Each serving of sauce: 95 calories; 43 mg sodium; 4 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 21 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 2.01 grams fiber.

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