Summer harvest and foraging are in full swing right now with dip netting for salmon open and an abundance of berries in the hills! To celebrate, here’s an easy Alaskan Blueberry Cake made from scratch. It’s perfect for Dutch oven outdoors, or bake indoors.
Blueberry picking in Alaska…
Yah, it’s a big deal! And not just blueberries, there’s also salmonberries, strawberries, cranberries, crow berries, cloud berries, watermelon berries, rose hips and blackberries further south. That’s why we added in some blackberries and raspberries for this cake, but straight blueberries are delicious! Our favorite place to pick blueberries in Alaska is in the fields over the top at Hatcher Pass.
Prime berry season for us is right now from the end of July through the first part of August. People can get a little fussy about their favorite spots! My philosophy is spread out, minimize impact on the fields (especially the tundra “carpet”), and avoid bears….big ones!
Alaskan Blueberry Cake
When I first started the blog, I did a recipe for Dutch oven Blueberry Cobbler that’s kind of a fan favorite. It’s the hero version as it uses cake mix and sprite, plus is kind of fail proof for beginners. A scratch cake is a little bit more challenging to get a nice moist cake.
The beauty of using a Dutch oven is that it traps moisture in and kind of steams the product. (That’s why if you do something like pizza and want a crispier crust, you need to prop the lid open a bit so moisture can escape…fun fact.) To ensure this cake is moist, applesauce was added to the batter! Brown sugar, cinnamon and a little lemon zest round out the flavors.
Another tip to remember found from years of cooking cakes in Dutch ovens is to watch them closely so they don’t overcook. It can happen to the best outdoor chefs! Different coals vs. wood vs. how far along the coals are vs. medium you cook on (like an elevated fire pit, on the ground, on rocks): these can all make a difference in how long it takes to bake the cake!
So start checking your cake at about 25-30 min. Of course this works indoors in a 9 x 13″ pan in a 350 degree conventional oven. And if you don’t have fresh berries, use frozen, thawed, drained ones.
Once it’s done and you’re ready to nosh, top the warm cake off with powdered sugar, and maybe some whipped cream, ice cream or even a rum sauce! Heat any leftovers up for breakfast (there’s fruit in it, right?). Here’s to scratch baking a Dutch oven Alaskan blueberry cake, (plus a few berry friends for fun).
Dutch Oven Alaskan Blueberry Cake
For the Cake Batter
- 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp softened Butter
- 3/4 c. White Sugar
- 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
- 4 Eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
- 1/2 c. Milk
- 1/2 c. Applesauce
- 2 c. Flour
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/2-1 Tbsp. Lemon Zest optional
- 6 c. Berries fresh or frozen thawed blueberries or add raspberries, blackberries, strawberries etc.
- Powdered sugar optional
Light up ~ 25 coals for Dutch oven or pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
To make the Batter
- In a large bowl, cream together softened butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy.
- Add eggs 1 at a time.
- Then add vanilla, milk and applesauce. Whisk together until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; mix together.
- Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients; combine taking care not to over mix.
- Fold berries and lemon zest into batter gently to avoid over crushing fruit.
- Pour cake/berry batter into greased 12 inch Dutch oven or 9x13" pan
- For Dutch oven, place 7 coals on bottom and 18 coals on top. Bake for ~ 40-45 minutes, but start checking at ~ 20-25 minutes.
- Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
- Top with additional fresh berries, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or rum sauce if desired.
- If berries are particularly tart, prior to mixing with batter coat them with a little white sugar and allow to stand ~ 10 minutes.
- To cook indoors in conventional oven, bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.