— by Helen Austin —
I just couldn’t resist sharing this traditional poem, “Blackberry Blossom,” from Ronni Lundy’s cookbook, Butter Beans to Blackberries; Recipes from the Southern Garden. The book is a wonderful resource for using the seasonal bounty of gardens, farmers’ markets, and food clubs offering locally grown produce.
However, the recipe I’m about to share with you comes from another source. When our current issue of the food/travel magazine, Saveur, arrived, I found a cake recipe I just had to try. It called for sour cherries, but Jerry, who does most of the supermarket shopping in our family, said he couldn’t find them anywhere.
Meanwhile, we’d ordered a quart of blackberries from the Arkansas Sustainability Network, a local food club we belong to. I could have used those berries in one of several recipes I already have, but really wanted to try something new. (Okay, I had some whole wheat flour I needed to use.)
Soooo, early in the morning, before it got too hot, I was out in the kitchen. According to Saveur, the cake is intended for breakfast anyway. And I don’t think the fruit substitution hurt a bit. Jerry didn’t think so, either!
Fresh Arkansas Blackberry Cake
1 quart (approximate) blackberries
1/4 cup flour, plus more for pan
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tablespoons cherry brandy (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (see NOTE)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
In a small bowl, toss blackberries with 1/4 cup flour and set aside. Grease a 13-by-18-inch cookie sheet with sides – sometimes called a jellyroll pan – with butter and dust with flour. If, like me, you don’t have one of those, just use the shallow broiler pan that came with your oven.
In a large bowl, with a hand mixer on medium speed, beat together butter, sugar, cherry brandy (if using), and vanilla until mixture is pale yellow with no streaks. Add egg and beat until incorporated.
In a medium bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt. With mixer running on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk in 3 batches. Spread batter into cookie sheet or broiler pan and smooth evenly. Spread blackberries over top.
Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven 30-45 minutes. The original recipe said 45 minutes, but I found the
cake was thoroughly baked at 30, maybe because I used the broiler pan instead of a cookie sheet. Let cool
about 30 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy.
NOTE: This cake had a very coarse texture, almost as if the batter had a little cornmeal in it. If you want a more cake-like texture, try substituting 1 cup unbleached flour for 1 cup of the whole wheat.
Also, you may want to substitute fresh peaches or frozen blackberries for fresh blackberries.
© 2010 Helen Austin. All rights reserved.