Wow, did I put up a lot of blackberries last summer. I blame the gorgeous rolling hills at Greig Farm, and the excellent company, for picking, well, a whole lot of berries. Buckets and buckets. For which, now, I’m profoundly grateful: after berry-braised beef, and a blackberry-smothered birthday cake (with blackberry jam + cream cheese frosting!) for a certain newly-minted 8 year-old, not to mention jam and syrup and boozy berries galore, I’ve still got a couple of pounds in the freezer. Plenty to make this berry-packed summer cake, and even some to spare.
I’ve been crazy busy with work over the past few weeks: I love to cook, and I love to take my time doing it, but deadlines are deadlines and boy, do I have a doozy. Add that to some new projects that have come in and an impending trip to London next week(!), and I’ve been crazier than usual: and that’s saying something. In light of my hectic schedule of late, this cake is just what the doctor ordered: it came together in just under a half an hour, got popped into the oven, and is filling the house with delectable berry fragrance as we speak. In a maximum-time-efficiency move, I did not completely thaw the berries (just rinsed them under the hot water tap and called it thawed enough) and I ‘softened’ my frozen butter using the auto-defrost setting on the microwave. I’m guessing the texture or structure of the cake might suffer a bit, but hey: I was short on time, and even I get tired of nothing but cold linguiça out of the fridge.
- 5 oz (generous 1 cup) whole wheat (bread) flour
- 2 oz (scant 1/2 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 oz (6 tbsp) butter, softened at room temperature (or soften frozen butter using the defrost setting on the microwave)
- 6 oz (about 3/4 cup) raw sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk (I used goat)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lb blackberries, rinsed, thawed if frozen
- 1 oz candied citrus peel, finely chopped (about 3 tbsp), plus 1 – 2 tbsp of citrus sugar, for sprinkling
- powdered sugar and fresh lemon zest, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees convection). Butter a 10-inch pie pan (or a 9-inch deep dish pan).
- In a small bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, beating on high with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes. Add milk, egg and vanilla; blend until just combined. Gradually add flour mixture and beat just until smooth. Spoon batter into prepared pie pan and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle on half of the chopped citrus peel, then the berries, evenly over top, pressing down lightly to even out the top of the cake. Sprinkle the remaining citrus peel and 2 tbsp of citrus sugar (or raw sugar) evenly over the berries.
- Bake cake in the 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 325 degrees F (300 degrees F convection) and continue to bake until the middle is firm, the top is golden brown, and a tester (inserted in the most berry-free middle spot) comes out clean, about an hour (if your fruit is not completely thawed, you may need an extra 10 or 15 minutes of baking time). Cool in pan on wire rack. Decorate with a dusting of powdered sugar and a touch of lemon zest.
- Milk gives a lighter texture, and better structure, than yogurt, but I miss that slight tang. Buttermilk may be the perfect compromise.
- If you don’t have candied citrus peel, the zest of a lemon or two added to the flour would work nicely. There is not a lot of citrus flavor throughout the cake, so swapping lemon extract, or Chambourd for more berry flavor, for the vanilla is an idea.
- The somewhat aggressive flavor of the blackberries stands up nicely with the hearty whole red wheat; if using a more delicately flavored berry, white wheat or spelt may be a better option.
- Actually the texture was fine with my partially thawed fruit: the cake did take longer to cook, but at the low temp, the top did not overly brown, but got nicely crunchy, while the middle remained moist, but not soggy. Win-win!
For up to two days at room temperature, loosely covered with a clean kitchen towel.
Late summer, or year round with frozen berries.