how ina garten saved my marriage

I know what you’re thinking — you’d always pictured Ina cast in the role of home-wrecker, not home healer. (That luminous skin, that sultry laugh… I’m sure I’m not the only one with a crush on the Barefoot Contessa).

Small FreezerThe root of the problem is that my city-sized freezer, in my city-sized kitchen is too small to safely and coldly store: a small stockpile of nuts and unsalted butter for baking emergencies, 10 pounds of frozen meat from my CSA, mail-ordered raw food for the beagle, some Chinese dumplings, highly-perishable grits sent from a friend in North Carolina and a 5 pound box of organic, wild Maine blueberries.

The problem was really the blueberries. Anne is willing to tolerate my need to horde meat and butter, and she shares my paranoia concerning the pet food industry (and undying devotion to aforementioned beagle), but she drew the line at the blueberries. When the berries arrived (over a year ago), Anne promptly reminded me that she does not like blueberries. But I was undeterred. She’d be won over by my mom’s blueberry pancake recipe. (She was not).

Box of Blueberries

Another obstacle was that all the recipes I knew for things blueberry were items that could not be easily transported to my office and pawned off on my co-workers. (Here, have some delicious blueberry pancakes, hot off the griddle via the Red Line!). It got worse as time went on. Anne would run into Star Market for some staple unavailable at Whole Foods (Hellman’s mayo, for example), and I’d say, “Don’t buy any frozen pizza while you’re there because there is no room in the freezer.” She’d shout back, “Maybe you should eat some freakin’ blueberries!” And on it went. Until now.

Slice of Blueberry Crumb Cake

Last weekend’s episode of Barefoot Contessa featured a blueberry cake with a streusel topping. Perfect for toting to the office, to pot lucks, to friend’s places. The original recipe called for 1 cup of blueberries, but at that rate, I’d still be working on this box by… blueberry season. So I upped it to 2 cups (9 oz.). Also, the recipe calls for using a round baking pan, but next time I might try using a spring form pan, so I can remove the cake for serving on a platter. The cake is like your favorite Entenmann’s crumb cake — but moister (from the sour cream), and with bright little bursts of blueberry and lemon. It’s a little rich for breakfast, but I think it’ll be so nice with your 10:30 coffee break. And now I have a place for all the blueberries in my freezer to go.

Blueberry Crumb Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten

For the Streusel:
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cups AP flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Combine the sugars, spices and flour in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and mix. Set aside.

For the Cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 ¼ cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
9 oz. (2 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and flour a 9” round baking pan.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on high speed until light, 4 – 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla, lemon zest and sour cream. With mixer still on low, add the flour mixture until the batter is just combined. Fold in blueberries with a spatula.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth with spatula. Using your fingers, crumble the streusel mixture on top. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes,* until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before serving. Dust top with confectioners’ sugar.

* I used an 8” cake pan, and it took almost an hour to cook the cake.


4 responses to “how ina garten saved my marriage

  1. What time should I stop by your office?

  2. Too late. It was absolutely delicious.

    I wonder what else we can top with streusel.

  3. Oh Ina you’re such a whiz at everything; cook, entrepreneur, marriage counselor.
    This post just endeared me to Anne that much more. That woman and I are gastronomic kindred in so many ways!

  4. That cake looks incredible, and I’m incredibly jealous of your stash of blueberries. Freezer space or no, they’re still a treasure!

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