Lightly cinnamon-flavored and punctuated with bursts of juicy blueberries, blueberry applesauce cake bars are vegan, fat-free, and soy-free.
The first time I described picking blueberries, I wrote, “There’s something peaceful about picking blueberries, even when you have to stand on a ladder to do it.” I went on to post the recipe for a Chocolate-Blueberry Cake that was pretty amazing, but some of the people who commented were more curious about the ladder than the cake. I even received an email informing me that blueberries grow on bushes, not trees, so obviously my story of using a ladder must have been made up.
So this time, I made sure to take photos of the picking process, not just the picked berries:
Here’s E, my fairly-tall college student daughter, standing on the 5th rung of a ladder to get to the big blueberries at the top of one of the many bushes at a pick-your-own blueberry farm in Richland, Mississippi. These bushes are so old and large that it can be hard to reach the berries from the ground.
I’m afraid of heights, but I managed to convince myself to climb up a rung or two in order to reach these juicy blueberries. Often they were tantalizingly out of reach of my fingers, if not my phone’s camera.
The bushes were wet from a thunderstorm the night before, so every time we bumped a branch, we got showered with water. By the time E and I had filled our two gallon buckets, we were soaking wet.
But it was worth the heights, the soaked clothes, and the sore muscles to bring home the best blueberries I’ve had in a long time.
Then the real work began: washing them, drying them, freezing most of them, and figuring out what to make with the rest of them.
I have to admit that E was much better than I was at figuring out what to make with them. While I kept sneaking handfuls out of the fridge to eat plain or with soy yogurt, E was making muffins (twice), pancakes, and even crepes. It seems that baking is her calling.
So a few days ago, when she came into the kitchen to bake again, I had a request: Test out this recipe that I just wrote. I gave her the recipe, an adaptation of an applesauce cake that I love, and she did the baking.
I’m happy to report that we make a good team! The cake came out dense yet moist, lightly cinnamon-flavored (E admits she may have spilled a little extra cinnamon into the batter when she was measuring), and punctuated with juicy bites of blueberries. I cut the cake into 12 large “bars” and sprinkled them with confectioners sugar, just to pretty them up, but they were plenty sweet without it.
Blueberry Applesauce Cake Bars
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 - 3/4 cups blueberries fresh or frozen (measured frozen and then thawed)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- confectioners sugar optional
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Oil or line with parchment paper a 9x13-inch baking dish.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, mixing well. Make a well in the middle and add the applesauce, blueberries, lemon juice, and vanilla. Stir gently, just until the flour is no longer dry.
- Smooth the batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing into 12 pieces and eating. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar if desired.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Please try ’em and share ’em!
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Samantha DillhoffJune 25, 2018 at 8:12 pm
I really had a good laugh about the ladder. I have been following your for awhile, but I didn’t remember the chocolate blueberry cake either. Thanks for this recipe! I can’t wait to try. 🙂
Marian GleasonJune 26, 2018 at 6:07 pm
Psssst…… that chocolate blueberry cake is THE REASON my husband asked me to marry him 6 years ago. I made it for him THREE TIMES while we were courting (for a year) and he fell in love with that cake — and ME!! Susan knows this factoid too. xxooxx
Susan VoisinJune 26, 2018 at 8:58 pm
My greatest success story! 😀
Samantha DillhoffJune 29, 2018 at 1:17 pm
That is EXACTLY the sort of magic I need. 🙂 Thanks, Sam
MaryJune 25, 2018 at 9:21 pm
MariaJune 25, 2018 at 9:28 pm
Susan, i love it when it’s blueberry time in Mississippi and you take us “with you’ to go pick.Those trees are phenomenal! I’ve never seen ones so big! You’ve got Oregon beat. 🙂 I loved the detail of the branches being soaked from a thunderstorm. I love the detail of getting all wet. I felt it happen to me as I read. I just love all of it–that E is loving to bake and all the many ways to eat and process the riches of 4 gallons of them! The cake sounds really delicious, too, and the photo of it is beautiful. Thanks, Susan! <3
VickiJune 26, 2018 at 12:58 am
These look yummy! Do you have any suggestions to make the Gluten free?
Susan VoisinJune 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm
Bob’s Red Mill makes a 1 to 1 baking mix that I’ve heard substitutes well for wheat flour. I haven’t tried it, but it’s worth a shot.
Janet CoxJune 26, 2018 at 4:41 pm
Looks yummy. Our blue berries are just now coming on. First picking today, so I will be making these this weeks.
SuziJune 26, 2018 at 6:19 pm
Those huge blueberry bushes are incredible! I live in Atlantic Canada where the bushes are a lot shorter and scrubbier (hardly bushes, even) and so it never really occcured to me that OF COURSE they might grow differently in another climate. The squares look delicious!
jacquieJune 26, 2018 at 7:07 pm
those blueberry bushes are amazing. I have never seen nor heard of the plants growing so large. Thanks for sharing the experience with us. The cake looks great. Do you think I could cut down on the sugar? I tend to prefer things not to be too much on the sweet side and that seems like it might be too much for me along with the natural sweetness of the applesauce (even unsweetened is sweet) and the blueberries. Thanks.
Susan VoisinJune 26, 2018 at 8:57 pm
You can try it with less sugar. I already reduced it by 1/3 cup from the original recipe, so if you use much less, you might start to have issues with its texture.
Sue FehlbergJune 26, 2018 at 10:24 pm
You crack me up! I was reading the part about the ladder to my husband, and showed him the photo of E picking. He said, “Yes, but are you sure those are blueberries she picking?” I laughed so hard when the I saw the next picture of the blueberry bush close up. Well done! I don’t know how you bear all the weird comments.
I’m baking this cake for a potluck tomorrow. I’ve been using your recipes for years and have never been disappointed. (Black-eyed pea burgers and potato salad are already on our 4th of July party menu.) Thanks for all you do!
Julie McAuleyJune 27, 2018 at 1:26 am
For years I have used self-rising flour and not have to use baking soda or salt. Will self-rising work with this recipe? I love blueberries and add them to everything I can possibly add to.
Susan VoisinJune 27, 2018 at 7:40 am
You can probably substitute self-rising flour for both fours and the baking soda with good results. I would also leave out the lemon juice.
ElenaJune 27, 2018 at 7:07 pm
I just made a gluten free and almost flour free version of this today and it came out perfect!
Instead of the flours I used gluten free rolled oats. About half of the oats I processed in my vita-mix And the rest I left unprocessed.
I used half the amount of sugar.
Everything else was the same (I used frozen blueberries) except I also added slices of home grown nectarine on top. Yum!
I baked in a smaller dish and it took almost an hour at 350F because the cake was denser in the oval baking dish I had. .
Thanks for the inspiration.
JasJuly 21, 2018 at 10:42 am
I was thinking of using oats as well, but decided not to, at least for the first time making this recipe. How I wish I’ve seen this comment BEFORE I made the cake!
I used this recipe as a base to make dates and spice cake and it turned out great.
DeeJune 17, 2019 at 9:01 am
I like the oats idea! Is the oat replacement 1-1, i.e. did you use 2 cups of oats to replace the 2 cups (1 all purpose, 1 wheat) of flour?
lenaJuly 2, 2018 at 1:28 pm
once again, a home run. made it very quickly for a class i was teaching. they loved it! also, hubby eats 3 at a time. i would say that was a success!!
LorrieJuly 3, 2018 at 9:00 pm
The bars look delicious! However, I eat minimal to no sugar. Is there a substitute I can use?
Susan VoisinJuly 4, 2018 at 8:51 am
You can try substituting any of the sugar replacements that are 1:1 sugar, like stevia-erythritol blends.
JillJuly 22, 2018 at 9:58 am
These are fantastic. I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little lemon zest. Next time I’ll double the recipe. There were six people here for our book reading club meeting and I had to start cutting each bar in half so there was enough!
ShellyAugust 7, 2018 at 4:05 pm
These looks yummy.Thank you for the recipe. I’ll try this at home.
Sandra FrenchSeptember 5, 2018 at 9:56 am
The cake bars were super moist with tons of flavor. The best part was I didn’t have to feel guilty for eating them all, cause they’re healthy!
KhlarisseSeptember 12, 2018 at 10:55 am
I have a bunch of blueberries I froze and will have to try this soon. It looks delicious. Your blog was my vegan recipe bible 10 years ago and I didn’t realize how long ago it was until you mentioned E was in college!!!! Wow time really flies! Thanks for sharing all your culinary knowledge and adventures!!
Diana LopesSeptember 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
I’m always amazed by what healthy food that looks good can taste like,
YogeshNovember 8, 2018 at 4:52 am
It’s looking soo delicious
192.168.0.1November 11, 2018 at 7:44 pm
Looks delicious! It was worth the heights,
SandraFebruary 19, 2020 at 9:52 am
Please turned out amazing! I used half brown sugar and half white sugar. Thanks for the great recipe!
PaulaJanuary 22, 2019 at 10:02 pm
Thanks for the smart point info! Just what I needed!
ColleenMay 6, 2019 at 6:22 pm
These look so good. How well do you think replacing the blueberries for raisins would work? My roommate doesn’t like blueberries, not even a teeny bit.
Susan VoisinMay 7, 2019 at 9:07 am
I think you could use raisins that have been soaked in hot water to plump them up.
Jacqueline SmithAugust 20, 2019 at 9:27 pm
First time here!
I baked it today!
The only difference is that I used GF flour!
I am going to check/follow and share your blog now for more recipes!
God bless you abundantly
Rob DeRosaFebruary 5, 2020 at 12:41 pm
These came out great! I used the parchment paper method and it worked perfectly. The squares are moist and full of flavor. I did have to bake it a bit longer. Raisins would be good in these!
Lu RivJuly 28, 2020 at 2:18 pm
Great recipe! It did not take long to make and was a great, healthier option. I loved the cake bars warm, but the next day I also popped a square in the toaster and topped it with banana!
Danielle ReichOctober 21, 2021 at 1:35 pm
I’ve been using this recipe for three years and I love it.
Being a human and an internet user, I have of course made a couple of substitutions. In case anyone is interested:
1. I find using all WWF works fine for my tastes. (And for my kiddo, who had this as his 4yo birthday cake.)
2. I substitute about 1c pitted dates for the 2/3c sugar, and blend them thoroughly with the applesauce & vanilla. I’m sure this makes a significant texture change, but it’s the only way I’ve had them (as I was on a no-sugar-period kick when I first made this recipe), and they work for me.
3. I double the cinnamon. 🙂
JaneDecember 20, 2021 at 2:36 pm
Super quick, easy, and nice recipe. Came out SO fluffy; it was lovely. I used slightly less sugar, maybe 1/2 cup total.
NatashaSeptember 7, 2022 at 3:36 am
A super simple and healthy recipe. This tastes really good! Thanks for the recipe!