Why is the blueberry the best berry? Because it's the only one that can be woven into doughs and batters and still retain its shape and juiciness. Sure, raspberries and blackberries are delicious, but they tend to fade dramatically when baked, for their taste is often diminished by heat.

Blueberries, though, shine in muffins, pancakes and waffles, tea and coffee cakes, biscuits and scones, because the intensity of flavor comes forward in little, self-contained pools that burst with the pure taste of the berry. The blueberries contribute moistness to a batter or dough, as well as a certain fruity richness, and thrive in the presence of butter, milk, buttermilk, sour cream and heavy cream. The blueberry fragrance can be balanced and enlarged by several of the "sweet" spices--cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom (alone or in combination with one another), and pure vanilla extract, an essential flavoring agent.

The mechanics of working blueberries into a batter or dough are simple: Use a flexible spatula and delicate motions when stirring or folding in fresh blueberries. And always flour the berries before adding them to the mix so that they stay suspended in the batter (even one destined for pancakes or waffles). If you don't, they tend to sink and form a messy and damp bottom layer. Another advantage to flouring the berries: It will keep the batter relatively pure in color. Unfloured blueberries tend to tint cream-colored batters a pale purple, although too vigorous a mixing will tinge the batter in any event (just remember to mix carefully).

When selecting blueberries at the market:

Look for bright berries with a silvery cast.

Choose plump (not shriveled) berries, without any evidence of mold.

Lightly and gently jiggle the container--the berries should move freely.

Inspect the bottom of the container--it should be free of any wet spots.

And, a final, gentle reminder: You love blueberries, I love blueberries, but don't add a mother lode of them to a recipe. Once, being passionate about having lots and lots of berries in my muffins, I doubled the amount. The result? A sloshy batter and mushy batch of muffins.

Blueberry-Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

(A 10-inch bundt cake)

Most any match of blueberries and brown sugar is a happy one, because the sugar's light caramel undertone bolsters the berry flavor. This summery cake is a delight to serve at brunch.

Nonstick spray oil

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup blueberries

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream blended with 2 tablespoons milk

Confectioners' sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the inside of a fluted 10-inch tube pan (12- to 14-cup capacity) with nonstick spray oil; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of the sifted mixture. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar in 2 additions, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add the granulated sugar and beat for 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing for 30 to 45 seconds after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and alternately add the sifted ingredients in 3 additions with the sour cream-milk mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula. Gently stir in the floured blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth over the top of the batter with a rubber spatula.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until set and a wooden pick withdraws cleanly when inserted into the center portion of the cake. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 7 to 10 minutes, then invert onto another cooling rack. Cool completely.

Just before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over the top of the cake. Cut the cake into slices, using a serrated knife.

Per serving (based on 12): 419 calories, 6 gm protein, 50 gm carbohydrates, 22 gm fat, 122 mg cholesterol, 13 gm saturated fat, 441 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Tender Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

(About 27 pancakes)

Easy and luscious, the vanilla-accented, buttermilk-enriched pancakes provide the perfect backdrop for a shower of blueberries.

1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup blueberries

2 ounces ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for the griddle

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, plus additional as needed

Confectioners' sugar (optional)

Blueberry preserves, blueberry syrup or softened butter

In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Toss the blueberries with 1 teaspoon of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Whisk in the buttermilk until thoroughly blended.

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients, scatter the blueberries over the top and stir gently just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter.

Using 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake, cook the pancakes on a hot, lightly greased griddle until the bottoms are golden, about 1 minute. Flip over with a wide metal spatula and continue cooking until the pancakes are completely set and cooked through, about 1 minute longer. (If the batter thickens while standing, add extra buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time.)

Serve the pancakes sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, if desired, and blueberry preserves, blueberry syrup or softened butter.

Per pancake: 61 calories, 2 gm protein, 8 gm carbohydrates, 2 gm fat, 21 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 58 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Blueberry Biscuits

(Makes 14 to 16 biscuits)

Lightly sweetened and fragrant with nutmeg, this buttermilk biscuit dough catches plump blueberries in its tender "crumb." Blueberry biscuits are a simple indulgence.

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for working the dough

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup blueberries

3 ounces ( 3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

6 tablespoons cold solid vegetable shortening

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Have ready a large baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, nutmeg and sugar. Toss the blueberries with 2 teaspoons of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Using a pastry blender or 2 table knives held scissors-fashion, cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until they are reduced to small pieces about the size of kidney beans. Then crumble the mixture between your fingertips to reduce the pieces to smaller pearl-size pieces. Add the blueberries to the mixture and toss gently. Add the buttermilk and mix lightly, using a rubber spatula and being careful not to crush the blueberries. Work the mixture into a dough. Knead the dough gingerly in the bowl about 12 times by pushing it lightly over itself.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin or your fingertips, roll or pat the dough to a thickness of 1 inch. Using a 2-inch square or round cutter dipped in flour, cut out the biscuits. (Press straight down into the dough with even pressure and lift straight up; don't twist the cutter or the biscuits will rise unevenly.) With a metal spatula, transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet, arranging them 2 inches apart. Firmly push back into the biscuit dough any berries that protrude from the top and sides. Sprinkle the sugar-nutmeg mixture over the tops of the biscuits.

Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes, or until set and golden. Using a metal spatula, remove the biscuits to a cooling rack. Cool the biscuits for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Per biscuit (based on 16): 211 calories, 3 gm protein, 27 gm carbohydrates, 10 gm fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 4 gm saturated fat, 274 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Blueberry White Corn Cakes

(14 muffins)

Have these muffins with bacon and eggs for breakfast, or at dinner with country ham or roasted chicken.

Nonstick spray oil

2 cups bleached all-purpose flour

1 cup white cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups blueberries

6 1/2 ounces (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, melted and cooled

4 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray 14 muffin cups with nonstick spray oil. (Each cup should measure 2 3/4 inches in diameter and 1 3/8 inches deep, with a capacity of 1/2 cup.) Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and sugar. Toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the butter, shortening and eggs until completely blended. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients, scatter the blueberries over the top and stir, using a flexible spatula, to form a batter, mixing until the dry ingredients are completely absorbed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, mounding the batter lightly in the middle.

Bake the corn cakes for 17 minutes, or until plump and set. They are done when a wooden pick inserted in the center withdraws cleanly.

Transfer the pans to cooling racks for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins to other cooling racks. Let the muffins stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Per cake: 277 calories, 5 gm protein, 30 gm carbohydrates, 16 gm fat, 91 mg cholesterol, 8 gm saturated fat, 391 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Blueberry Banana Loaf

(A 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf)

This banana-moist, blueberry-dotted tea loaf has a buttery flavor that is lightly scented with spice and deepened with vanilla.

Shortening for the pan

2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for the pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

1 cup blueberries

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas

1 teaspoon milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the inside of a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with a little shortening and then dust the inside of the pan with flour; tap the pan sharply to remove the excess flour. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom (if using). Toss the blueberries with 2 teaspoons of the sifted mixture. Set aside.

Using a large bowl and an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Then add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 45 seconds after each addition. Blend in the vanilla, mashed bananas and milk. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing until the flour has been absorbed after each addition. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl frequently with a rubber spatula. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, mounding it slightly in the middle.

Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until lightly browned and set and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the loaf withdraws cleanly. Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully unmold it onto another rack. Cool completely. Cut the loaf into slices with a serrated knife.

Per slice (based on 12): 260 calories, 4 gm protein, 41 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 57 mg cholesterol, 5 gm saturated fat, 230 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

Lisa Yockelson is at work on a cookbook about developing flavor in baked goods, to be published by John Wiley & Sons Inc.