The Retro Mom

Bringing your grandmother's comfort food out of her recipe box and into your gluten-free kitchen

Lutheran Ladies Blueberry Dessert

There is no such thing as a Lutheran event without food. It just doesn’t happen. Food and Lutherans are intertwined, it seems, and have been since forever. That’s just the way it is.

And let me tell you, Lutheran Ladies, especially the………senior ladies of years past, knew how to bake. I am lucky to have several cookbooks from my husband’s childhood church. They are loaded with homemade goodness and food for a crowd! One of our favorite cookbooks, Lutheran Church Basement Women – hilariously details and documents everything from Hot Dishes to Dead Spreads – or casseroles and “helper” type dishes to food for funeral lunches. Heavily laden with white rice recipes, jello and a bajillion cookie recipes this book shows how there are many variations within the same theme in cooking, even in small communities.Thrown in along the way are various songs, lists, “things a Lutheran woman might think but never say” and other gems.

Now, the church cookbook that I took my recipe from today is from the Shepherd Of The Valley American Lutheran Church Women, 1967. So while my mother-in-law was no doubt chasing a very little toeheaded 3 year old around church every Sunday, she also found time to chip in a few recipes for this book that was probly sold as a fundraiser. But not sold on a Sunday. Oh no. Never. Uff da.

I’m a big believer in cooking with what you have at home, whenever you can. While I didn’t have all of the ingredients to make my mother-in-law’s excellent brownies, I did have everything to make Mrs. Janet Harms Blueberry Dessert. But, looking at the recipe that had been typed on a manual typewriter and the mimeographed,  it looked, uh, rather scrunched. After all, you can’t have a two-page recipe in a strictly one page cookbook, that’s a whole lot of “fancy” for a simple dish cookbook. Tsk. Tsk. So after deciphering the recipe, I streamlined it but still followed all of the instructions. Making it gluten-free and dairy-free was a snap.

Out of that, came this:

That’s right! Now, the recipe is listed as a dessert. I could see this being served as a dessert, I guess? But it seems like what we might think of as a coffee cake. It’s what I will be thinking about all night as  my breakfast tomorrow morning, if there is any left…..

Give it a try, you’ll thank me later in the comments below…..promise.

Mrs.Janet Harms Lutheran Ladies Blueberry Dessert

Here is how it is written, circa 1967:

blueberry cake recipe

Here’s how I re-interpreted the ingredients:

1/4 cup shortening, I used Nutiva Organic Palm and Coconut Oil blend

1/4 cup sugar, I used raw sugar

1 egg

1 cup oat flour, but brown rice flour with a tablespoon of tapioca flour would work just as well

pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 cup almond milk

1 cup blueberries – I think blueberries were much smaller back then?? – I put in a cup of frozen organic blueberries and I think at some point this became more berry than cakey. Not a bad thing.

I was out of vanilla, so, you know. It really didn’t need it anyways.

Here’s the changes I made:

1. I followed the first set of instructions, creaming the sugar and shortening – there’s a reason to do that first. Really. It does play a factor in how your cake will turn out. I followed every other step.

2. For the topping I used oat flour and the Nutiva oil blend again. Rubbing butter in with your fingertips – well, if you want the authentic experience, go ahead. I used a fork. It didn’t want to spread over the berries, so I dropped little spoonfuls over the cake. I baked it for the time recommended and it came out perfectly cooked. I was loving this recipe already. I used a standard-size cake pan.


3. I cooked the sauce, but left out the blueberries – because the cake was going to near collapse with all of the berries in it already!

That’s about it. It really worked the way it said it would. I’m guessing it would serve about 6 people. Maybe. If it lasted that long. Cheers Mrs. Harms!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.