Blueberries + Maple Syrup…Oh My!

Blueberries are so good for us. We need to eat lots more than we do. And luckily, they’re SO good you can just eat them plain, right out of your hand.

But if you want some ideas on what to make with them, here’s one for you. Aunt Annie used to make a blueberry cake in her cast iron skillet. The memories I have of this incredibly delicious cake make my mouth water.

But I lost her recipe a few years ago. Then just the other day I received an email from a favorite site on homesteading and pioneering,, for a very similar blueberry cake (recipe below) that came from a free ebook, A Sweet Taste (

This recipe uses pure maple syrup as the sweetener, though. But this seems like such a sensible and tasty adjustment, that I’ll be giving it a try. And when I say sensible, these health benefits of pure maple syrup explain why “sensible” is the right word:

  • It contain antioxidants

  • It contains trace minerals

  • It contains vitamins

  • It’s a natural food with minimal processing involved

  • Even though it’s still a sugar, it is lower on the glycemic index than sugar

And being lower on the glycemic index is a very good reason to opt for pure maple syrup when making a sweet dessert or treat. And for those of you who prefer to use raw honey for your desserts and treats, just know that it has twice as many calories as pure maple syrup. So the lower calorie count is another reason to seriously look at pure maple syrup as a sweetener of choice (besides your pure honey, that is).

So with this said, how do you go about substituting pure maple syrup for the sugar a recipe calls for? There are definitely some tricks to this. While amounts do vary from one recipe to the next, in general, just as with substituting honey, you do end up using less syrup than you would sugar. But that said, there are 3 guidelines to follow when converting a recipe to maple syrup:

  1. If your recipe calls for 1cup of sugar, you’ll want to use somewhere in the neighborhood of 2/3 to 3/4 cup of pure maple syrup.

  2. You’ll also need to reduce any liquid in your recipe, because obviously you’re adding a liquid sugar, where originally the recipe called for dry sugar.

  3. Be sure to turn your oven approximately 25 degrees. This is important because when replacing dry sugar with pure maple syrup, you’ll find it caramelizes at a lower temperature than dry sugar does; this quicker carmelization must be accounted for, or your dessert can burn rather than brown. This factor also means baking time needs to be a little longer as well.

Finally, here’s one last thought on choosing pure maple syrup over white sugar. You may have noticed I’ve been using the term “pure” maple syrup over and over. And not accidentally. While it seems redundant, I repeatedly included the word “pure” to draw attention to the fact that you don’t want to use the inexpensive stuff…Aunt Jemima’s, Log Cabin, Kroeger’s, Costco’s, etc. etc. These brands aren’t pure; they’ve been cut with high fructose corn syrup (no matter what name it’s given, it’s still high fructose corn syrup). And we all know what garbage that stuff is.

Admittedly, pure maple syrup costs much more than Western Family, or the Walmart brand, or etc. So wait for the pure version to go on sale and bite the bullet. It’s worth it. And besides, a little goes a long ways.

OK, off the soapbox and on to the cast iron blueberry cake recipe. You’ll like this!


1½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg, separated

½ cup butter or coconut oil, room temperature

⅔ cup pure maple syrup

⅓ cup milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ cup blueberries, lightly floured (fresh or frozen, thawed and drained)


¼ cup mixed brown and white sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.

  3. Beat egg whites until stiff and set to the side.

  4. Using a stand mixer or hand beater, cream butter or coconut oil with maple syrup, aka whip 'em together till real good, for 4 to 5 minutes, until it's light and airy.

  5. Add the egg yolk to the creamed butter mixture, beating well.

  6. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the milk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients and then the last of the milk.

  7. Fold in egg whites, lemon juice, and the floured blueberries until just combined. Scoop batter into a 10 inch cast iron skillet.

  8. Sprinkle the maple sugar over top of the batter or the mixed brown and white sugar.

  9. Bake for 35 minutes.

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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