Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blueberry Cake-Pie-Cheesecake Bars

I love a challenge, so when I found out that Lucky Leaf was holding a contest for recipes using their products, I jumped right in.

And promptly fell off.

If you're not familiar with the company, Lucky Leaf makes all kinds of canned fruit products, including pie fillings and some unusual canned fruits that you don't normally see - like canned tart cherries, apricot pie filling, and pineapple pie filling.

My first cake was a disaster. I think I know where it went wrong, and it had nothing to do with the lovely tart cherries I bought. The cake part of the recipe was out of whack.

So ... I moved on to blueberry pie filling. And I completely re-did the cake part of the recipe. And then I decided I needed something more than blueberries sitting on top of a cake. That would be just weird, right, just a layer of berries?

So I cobbled together a cheesecake-like topping and put a thin layer of that on top. It's really thin. I've seen frosting slathered on thicker. But that's what I was after. Thin layer of cake, layer of blueberry pie filling, and then a cheesecake-like topping.

I considered dolloping on the cheesecake stuff and the blueberry pie filling randomly, then doing swirls, but I decided to go with layers. Maybe next time it will be dollops and swirls. We'll see.

So, back to the contest. I was going to enter it, but with the first cake disaster and the need to buy more stuff, and the late-night baking, and the need to cool this completely before I cut it ... well, I missed the contest deadline completely.

But so what? It's good cake.

Sometimes my best recipes happen when other people ask me to make things. Or when I enter a contest. That's when I pull out all the creativity stops and I make things that I probably wouldn't make if it was just dinner.

Not only do I get more creative when I'm working on a contest entry, some of my most popular posts here weren't things I would have written about if someone else hadn't nudged me write them. We'll see how this one fares.

Blueberry Cake-Pie-Cheesecake Bars

For the cake:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups (9 ounces) all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pie filling:
1 21-ounce can blueberry pie filling

For the cheese topping:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray.

To make the cake:
Combine all the cake ingredients in a large bowl. Yes, all at once. Beat until well combined. You don't need to beat the heck out of it, but just until it's combined and not lumpy-bumpy.

Pour the cake mixture into the pan and bake at 350 degrees until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed on top - about 25 minutes. It doesn't need to be browned on top, but it should be cooked through. A toothpick inserted in the center might be a little moist, but it shouldn't be batter-wet.

To make the cheese topping:
While the cake is baking, make the cheese topping. Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth, then add the sugar and beat well. Add the egg, creme fraiche (or sour cream) and lemon juice and beat until well combined and smooth. Set aside until the cake is ready.

When the cake is ready, remove it from the oven. Add the blueberry pie filling and even it out as much as possible. Dollop on the cheese topping and smooth the top.

Return the cake to the oven and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese mixture is just set. It can be a little jiggly, but it shouldn't be loose and sloshy.

Let the cake, in its pan, cool on a rack until room temperature, then refrigerate.

Serve cool, or at room temperature.