A Cook's Plot

Puddings & Desserts

Lemon, Blueberry and Vanilla Traybake

I think this might be one of the nicest cakes I’ve made since I’ve been writing this blog. It’s lovely and moist, and the sharpness of the lemon makes a wonderful contrast to the sweetness of the cake - then in every bite there’s a explosion of juicy tanginess from the blueberries too. It’s hard to stop at just one slice!

A couple of things ensure the cake stays very moist and light… First, I’ve replaced some of the flour with cornflour. Although I know that always works well, I’ve never really understood the science behind it. Now I do: cornflour apparently works alongside sugar to ‘share’ the absorption of liquid by the flour and that stops the flour developing so much gluten when the mixture goes in the mixer (too much gluten means a tough, dense cake). Interesting, eh?

And the second thing is the use of buttermilk: the acidity in it helps to tenderise gluten in the flour, which makes for a lighter, softer texture (and it also adds an extra level of flavour too). Find it with the milk in most larger supermarkets. In my local Waitrose, it’s next to the chilled milkshakes - which reminds me: buttermilk is very low in fat (despite its buttery name), so it makes a great healthy substitute for milk in homemade milkshakes. If you have any leftover after making this, just whizz it in a blender or smoothie maker with cubes of fresh fruit (mango is especially good).

I made the cake using blueberries from last year that I had in the freezer, but fresh berries would work just as well (raspberries would be good too).


Serves 12

  • 260g plain flour
  • 40g cornflour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • half tsp salt
  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 200g blueberries


Line a traybake tin with baking parchment, then sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Beat the butter and sugar together in a food mixer until fluffy, then add the lemon zest and vanilla. With the food mixer on a slow speed, add the eggs roughly one at a time. Next, mix the buttermilk and lemon juice in a jug and add a little to the cake mixture, followed by some of the flour. Then continue to alternate the two, still with the mixer on a slow speed, until they are all used up.

Drain the blueberries if they're frozen to get rid of excess liquid, then sprinkle a little extra flour over them and gently mix it in (this will stop the berries sinking to the bottom of the cake). Carefully stir the blueberries into the batter and spoon into the tin. Bake in a preheated oven (180C fan oven) and bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, then cut into 12.

Makes 12 slices

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