What do you do when it’s so hot, you can barely muster the energy to get up and refill a glass of water, much less even think about baking anything? You could try to tough it out in a 100°+ kitchen, and hope none of that sweat dripping off every square inch of skin makes its way into your treats. You could go on baking hiatus until the temperature drops to a more reasonable level. Or, you could make something that requires no baking*—like this cake!
* It does require about 15 minutes of stovetop time. Only intermittent stirring is required during these 15 minutes, so you can run back and forth between stove and fan/air-conditioner.
I have been thinking about this cake for the past 3 years, with only a few clues as to how I might track down the recipe. My ex-boyfriend’s father brought this cake to a few family gatherings, and it was instantly a favorite of mine. All I knew about it was: (1) He had referred to it as cheesecake—which initially made me cringe—but it didn’t look like cheesecake; (2) It was loaded with blueberries; (3) This thing started making an appearance around the same time that he developed an obsession with a Rachel Ray cookbook. And with just a little bit of googling (oh internet, how I love thee), we find this. It looks like it! It sounds like it! And, now that I’ve made and tasted it, I can confirm that this is most definitely it.
This is the perfect dessert to make during the summer. It’s light (despite the use of pound cake), it’s chock-full of in-season berries, and it doesn’t require a 400° oven. The combination of cream cheese and whipped cream gives it that cheesecake flavor, but without all that heavy, dense yuckiness. (My apologies to anyone who loves traditional cheesecake; it’s definitely not for me.) The Rachel Ray recipe calls for strawberries and blueberries, but the boyfriend is allergic to the former, so I went with 100% blueberries. I don’t believe the version of this cake I was eating years ago contained strawberries either, so I don’t really feel as though it’s lacking anything without them. That said, I’m sure it’s just as tasty with both. If you’d like to include both, use ¾ of a cup of each (and still 100% blueberry preserves). The only mistake I made was using lemon pound cake, rather than regular pound cake and the lemon glaze. The sweet lemon flavor was a bit too intense, so I’ll definitely opt for just the glaze the next time.
Blueberries & Cream Cheese Cake
(adapted from Rachel Ray)
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup of water and ¼ cup of water (separated)
- zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp of the juice
- ¾ cup of blueberry preserves
- 1½ cup of blueberries, plus more for garnish
- 8 oz. of cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup of confectionery sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups of heavy cream, chilled
- two 12-ounce pound cakes, cut into thin slices (around ⅓ of inch)
In a small saucepan, bring ⅓ cup of water, granulated sugar, and lemon zest to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
In a medium saucepan, combine ¼ cup of water, preserves, and blueberries and cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened—about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool (I stuck mine right in the fridge).
While the berry mixture is cooling, cream together the cream cheese, confectionery sugar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a layer of pound cake slices, cutting to fit as needed. Coat with the lemon syrup, then spread half of the berry sauce on top. Spoon half of the cream cheese mixture on top of that. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, or overnight. When it’s ready to serve, release it from the springform pan and garnish with more berries.