Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blueberry, Bourbon, & Brown Butter Spiced Cakebread: the Un-Fruitcake

Recently, a representative from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council saw my recipe for seared duck breast with blueberry sage sauce and invited me to participate in a recipe competition.  The rules? Create an original sweet or savory recipe featuring winter fresh or frozen blueberries. Extra points for twisting up tradition and creating a new classic holiday dish.

Well kids, you know I am always up for a challenge ... especially when there's prize money involved!

Regular readers know that I tend to favor the savory over the sweet side of life, but I kept thinking about one much-maligned holiday food item: the fruitcake. I am not here to defend it - I think the things are generally an abomination, thanks in no small part to those freakishly bright bits of candied fruit scattered throughout  the overly dense crumb.

But what if they were filled with juicy bites of non-candied fruit, and made with nutty brown butter and good bourbon, and spiced just right with clove, cinnamon, allspice and ginger? And, instead of being dense bricks, what if they were light and fluffy, and sort of cake-y? In that case, you would have an un-fruitcake, which is what I have made here: a blueberry, bourbon, and brown butter spiced cakebread:
Why "cakebread?" Because I used cake flour rather than all purpose, but I baked it in a loaf pan and used a quick bread technique. This is perfect eaten warm topped with a bit of butter and a cup of coffee.

And the smell of this beauty baking is pure holiday.

Blueberry, Bourbon, & Brown Butter Spiced Cakebread
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup half and half combined with 1/2 cup water
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 cup brown butter, cooled*
3/4 cup frozen blueberries (still frozen)

*To brown the butter, cook unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon chunks, over medium  heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter turns brown and begins to smell nutty, remove from the heat, transfer to another container, and allow to cool. 

Grease and lightly flour a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, spices, and sugar. In another bowl, combine the half and half water mixture, beaten egg, bourbon, and cooled brown butter. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and fold until combined.  Gently fold in the frozen blueberries. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with a spatula,  and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for one hour, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Eat while warm, and store the leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Even though I am not a dessert person, I do occasionally like sweets with my coffee in the morning, and this is the perfect holiday breakfast. 

If you can't get enough of all things blueberry, visit the Blueberry Council's Web site for more sweet and savory recipes. 

And don't worry: You don't have to go vote for me. The winners of the competition will be chosen by a panel of food professionals and announced on January 15. Good luck to all of the participants!


  1. I think this is just the redo that fruitcake needs! And blueberries are just perfect for the task here! This is the kind of recipe everyone can make. Thanks!

  2. Blueberries, brown butter, and bourbon must be a combo made in heaven! This seriously does sound amazing! Perfect addition to any holiday table/tray. :)

  3. Everything about this sounds perfect! I can imagine how it tastes. I think I'm going to make this for my holiday brunch next weekend :)

  4. Where is my slice of cake read when I need it with my morning coffee? Seriously Trix this looks like a blueberry filled winner to me!

  5. I mean cake bread, my iPad has a spelling mind of its own!

  6. I am calling it the best 4Bs fruit cake ever. I adore your creation. Good luck!

  7. Cakebread is about the best term as I can think of!

  8. Oh, boy does this look incredible! Love the addition of autumnal spices and bourbon and brown butter...yum, yum!

  9. I had to click through when I saw the title of this post. Such delicious ingredients! Bourbon for breakfast, oh yeah. ;)

  10. Un-fruitcake indeed. This looks perfect. Bourbon makes it even more so!

  11. As soon as I saw this cake, I wanted it. Now all I need is someone to bake me one - I am baked out right now.

  12. It IS delicious. Thank you for sending some in with your husband to work. It was even warm when I sliced off a piece. SO. GOOD.

  13. This sounds phenomenal! Anything with blueberries and brown butter is right up my alley!

  14. Now this is my idea of a cake. I love love your combination of ingredients. I hope you win -good luck! Happy holidays amiga :)

  15. Holy Toledo! That may be the best looking use of blueberries I've ever seen. happy NY!