Happy Blueberry Month!
This past week was National Blueberry Month, so I brought out my vintage National Blueberry book from the 70s. It features recipes submitted by local cooks as part of the blueberry bake-off for the National Blueberry Festival, which began in 1963 in South Haven in my state of Michigan, the largest producer of blueberries in the country.
Blueberry Fields Forever
When I was a kid my dad brought my sister and me to Montrose Orchards to pick blueberries. Rows of ripe blueberry bushes greeted us full of bright, juicy berries to find and pick. The key was to find a good row of bushes with berries just blue enough to be too tart. To get the best ones, you had to search high and low. This is where my sister came in. As the smallest of us, she could shimmy under the bushes to get the neglected berries and sneak into the opposite side if needed. The only problem with the plan was that for every blueberry she put in the bucket, another went into her mouth.
After an hour my Dad and I had piled pails, while hers was only half full. In the trees at the end of each row hid a large yellow owl with eyes outlined in brown and orange. It was meant to scare away the birds, yet I felt it was still watching us with a warning that we ate too many berries.
When we got home Mom would make blueberry cobbler that came out of the oven with crispy sides overflowing with bubbling butter. Of course, you had to eat it topped with ice cream or Cool Whip.
Double Layer Blueberry Cheesecake
The original cookbook appears to be from the late 60s. Most of the vintage recipes are of a dessert or bread type. I decided to try an ambitious one: Double Layer Blueberry Cheesecake. It featured graham cracker crust under a cheesecake topped with blueberries and then lemon blueberry spread. I knew it would be an undertaking but wanted a way to use the berries we bought on sale.
Blueberry Cheesecake Recipe Instructions
The directions seemed to leave out a few steps, so I guessed based on other blueberry recipes. My child helped crush the graham crackers for the crust. The recipe had the cheesecake just poured onto it; however, from baking other cheesecakes I knew parbaking the crust was better. The cheesecake portion was rather straightforward. The only trick was to get it cooked well enough without cracking. Unfortunately, the oven time had two temperatures, and I picked the wrong one first. I adjusted it half-way but still found the center uncooked. In the end, I got it somewhat firmer. The sides were cracked a little, but hey, blueberries cover a multitude of mistakes.
The next layer was the lemon topping, which proved trickier than I thought because you had to make two separate toppings and then combine them to spread onto the top. I hate having leftover egg whites, so I included it in. Looking back, I think this made it a little more jelly-like . I also had trouble cooling both toppings at the same rate, so one was warmer than the other and took quite a while to cool down.
Blueberry Cheesecake Conclusion
The berry lemon topping had a tartness that complimented the soft mild custard in the cheesecake. The blueberries brought in all together in doubly full flavor.
While they were pretty good, I don’t think I would make them again because of all the time involved. Eva in this vintage cookbook had a lot of time on her hands. Or at least she was incredibly efficient with her time. But it was good to experience the past and appreciate the beauty of blueberries.
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