Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake

(recipe, Dorie Greenspan)


This “Plain Cake” – no crumbs, streusel, nuts, icing or filling – is just plain appealing. It’s got a soft crumb, a strong streak of caramel brown sugar flavor and the here-and-there surprise of sweet and tart berries. It’s a perfect “daylight” cake, good for breakfast, brunch or lunch, and it can easily be a picnic cake, because it’s eminently packable.


  1. 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 tsp. baking powder
  3. ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
  4. ⅛ tsp. plus a pinch of salt
  5. 2 large eggs, separated
  6. 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  7. 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  8. ½ cup whole milk
  9. 1 pt. (2 cups) blueberries — fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed)
  10. Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter an 11-by-7-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is great) and place it on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon (if you’re using it), and the ⅛ teaspoon salt.
  3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they form firm, glossy peaks.
  4. Gently scrape the whites into a clean bowl if using a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment, if you have one. (There’s no need to clean the mixer bowl.) Put the butter and sugar in the mixer bowl, or in another large bowl if using a hand mixer, and beat on medium speed until creamy.
  5. Add the egg yolks and beat 2 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, then all of the milk and then the remainder of the dry ingredients, adding each new batch as soon as the previous batch has been incorporated.
  6. Switch to a large rubber spatula and lighten the batter by stirring in about one quarter of the stiffly beaten egg whites. Fold in the rest of the whites, working as gently as you can. Since the cake batter is heavy, it’s only natural you’ll deflate the whites a little — don’t be concerned. Still working with as light a handle as possible, fold in the blueberries, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before dusting the top with confectioners’ sugar and serving warm.


I like this cake plain, but if you’re looking for an accompaniment, try blueberry jam or a bowl of lightly sweetened sour cream or crème fraîche. Well covered, the cake will keep at room temperature for about 3 days. You can wrap the cake airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months, but it really is best fresh. Culinate editor's note: If you use frozen blueberries, the baking time will be longer by about 10 minutes.