Every summer, late in the season when the last of the fat, juicy blueberries hung ripe on the bush, my grandmother took my sister and me berry-picking at the you-pick farm a few miles down the winding country road from her house. We spent the afternoon hours eating every other berry we pulled from the stem, and by sunset we felt the clean, happy feeling of perfect fullness that can only be experienced after hours of berry-gorging.
On the ride back to my grandmother’s house, my sister and I delighted in counting how many gallon-sized Ziploc bags we had filled with the deep blue, juicy fruit. Sometimes we would make it back with as many as eight gallons, depending on the season’s rainfall and the number of helping hands that occasionally came along. My grandmother gave away as many pints of blueberries as the neighbors would take and froze the rest to use throughout the year in what I would come to understand as her most prized and perfected recipe, blueberry crunch.
For such a complex and interestingly flavored dessert, the creation process is exceedingly simple. You need:
3 cups of blueberries, fresh or thawed
2 small cans of pineapple tidbits
1 ½ cups of sugar (divided)
One box of yellow cake mix
½ cup of chopped pecans
One stick of butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the blueberries, pineapple, and one cup of sugar together and let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Then pour into a glass baking pan. Shake the yellow cake mix directly over the berries until you have a fairly even layer. Then sprinkle the remaining sugar and the pecans over the cake mix. Melt the butter and pour it evenly over the top. Bake for 45 minutes and then cool for 10.
My sister and I have always agreed that the best part of blueberry crunch is, without a doubt, the unique way the yellow cake mix reacts to the rest of the ingredients. The dry, powdery dough soaks up the blueberry and pineapple juices, mixes with the butter, and takes on the consistency of the most delicious sugar cookie. With the crystallization of the sugar and the crunchy chopped pecans, it’s a culinary phenomenon that seems next to impossible to recreate under any different circumstance.