Remember the Blackberry!


Summer brings luscious fruit in abundance, particularly berries, which lure us all with their juicy sweetness.  Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries garner loads of attention and acclaim, and justifiably so, but save some love for the blackberry!  The generous-sized fruit offers abundant nectar and a subtle sweetness that’s evocative of a cool breeze rustling a shady meadow.

Because of blackberries’ size, it doesn’t take long for them to fill a basket or other container.  Then comes a tasty late summer puzzler – what to do with all the berries?  A cake is a great way to show off the fruit and to accentuate its sweetness.

Bon Appetit described one such cake in its September 2017 number, Blackberry-Tahini Yogurt Cake.  Though the cake hails from Los Angeles, its key ingredients – yogurt, tahini and cardamom – suggest L.A.’s sizable Persian population influenced its creation.

Tahini (sesame seed paste) imparts a creamy nuttiness mildly reminiscent of peanuts.  Meanwhile, cardamom is mixed with sugar and tops the cake with a streusel of sorts, finishing each bite with mysterious floral notes.  Finally, the yogurt is generously distributed throughout, setting the berries afloat (nearly) in a tender lusciousness.

Completing the taste profile is a sizable grating of citrus zest.  This adds an interesting zing.  Moreover, the cake is even better when served with freshly-whipped cream.  Today’s entry laces that cream with Grand Marnier, which complements the zest with its own exuberant orangey notes.

Of course, the blackberries get star billing here.  As the cake bakes, the berries soften and surrender their juices to the surrounding crumb.  This creates a blackberry jam, really, that goes a long way toward vaulting the fruit to its rightful place among the berry elite.

*****

Blackberry-Tahini Yogurt Cake

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (*1)
  • 4 tablespoons, plus one cup, sugar
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons citrus zest (*2)
  • 2 cups blackberries (*3)
  • 1/4 cup tahini

Pre-heat an oven to 350°.  Spritz a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, line it, bottom and sides, with parchment paper, then spray the paper with more cooking spray.  Set aside the pan.

In a small bowl mix the cardamom with 4 tablespoons of the sugar and set aside.

Sift into a large bowl the flour, baking powder, 1 cup of the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.  Make a well in the center, into which you’ll add the eggs, yogurt, oil and citrus zest.  Use a whisk at first to combine, switching to a wooden spoon when the batter gets heavy.

Once the batter is smooth, fold in the berries – gently, especially if they’re fresh.  Scrape the batter into the baking pan. (*4)

In another small bowl mix the tahini with a pinch of salt and the remaining two tablespoons of sugar.  Drizzle this over the batter, then sprinkle the cardamom mixture evenly over the top.

Bake for an hour, then invert onto a rack to cool.  Once cool, peel away the parchment paper, turn the cake right side-up, and serve.

NOTES:

1 – If you can’t find cardamom. use ground cinnamon.  Not quite as perfect, perhaps, but still delectable.

2 – I used a Meyer lemon and a lime.  An orange would be nice too, or even a grapefruit.

3 –  Here’s a rare case in which frozen is even better than fresh, as it keeps the berries intact longer as the cake bakes, leaving the flavor more concentrated.

4 – Here’s something I wish I knew going in – the batter will be thick, and not nearly as viscous as are most batters.  In fact, initially I feared I had done something wrong.

Don’t fret – the batter forms up beautifully, turning into the cake you see above.  Plus, the batter’s initial thickness prevents the berries from sinking, keeping them evenly-distributed throughout the cake.

*****

Citrus-Laced Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (*5)

Place a stand mixer bowl and a wire whisk attachment in the freezer until frosted, about 20 minutes. (*6)  Attach the bowl to the mixer and pour in the sugar.  Fix the mixer with the whisk attachment, then pour the cream into the bowl.

Starting at low speed, mix the two ingredients.  Once blended, pour in the Grand Marnier, then gradually increase the mixing speed to high.  Continue thusly until stiff peaks form.  This usually takes about ten minutes, but it varies.  Point is, trust your eyes more than my recipe.

Spoon onto, or beside, cake.  For a fancier touch, use a pastry bag fitted with a star attachment to create a more structured, fluted look.

MOTES:

5 – The liqueur isn’t needed, of course, but in this case it adds nice citrus notes that really work well.

6 – Frosting the mixer equipment isn’t vital, strictly speaking, but it does encourage the cream to thicken more quickly and evenly.

 

27 thoughts on “Remember the Blackberry!

  1. During summer, sometimes I make Blackberry Cobbler, or Blackberry Pie because berries are abundant where I lived, fresh off the bushes. The difficulty came in picking them due to the sharp thorns.

    So, I planted my own Thornless Blackberry Bush. It grew well, and produced plump, juicy blackberries that were easy to gather since there were no barbed villains to defend myself from (unsuccessfully)..

    Your recipe begs to be tried, tasted, and thoroughly enjoyed, along with second and third helpings. Have the guests over, next time. 😃 ha ha.

    Lovely post; pleasing to the senses.
    Yummy!

    😋

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tamara, how kind! Thanks!

      If you do try this, it flatters, and I think you’ll like the results. The tahini makes for a beguiling topping, as it’s reminiscent of peanut butter, yet subtler. The end result resembles a PB&J sandwich, except all grown up and sophisticated.

      Enjoyed the engaging description of your triumph over the Thorns. And now “plump, juicy” prizes reward your persistence!

      My parents had a beautiful Black Raspberry bush that, thorns and all, was eminently worth the half-hour trip to their house. Then, last summer, the township removed it to work on an adjacent road. Though the local market offers Black Raspberries, really, they don’t compare. I’m sure you can relate.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, the solution’s obvious, isn’t it, Kate? Promise one of your friends a poem if they’ll let you use the kitchen for a few hours. Bartering worked for our ancestors, after all!

      Much appreciate the compliment, though. Where do you get your blackberries? I always thought Oz proper would be too hot to grow them, but Tasmania and the neighboring country (New Zealand) offer more temperate conditions, if I recall.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Right, Kate, though the overseas distances are pretty astounding too. Once, curiosity inspired me to see how long the flight to Sydney was.

        22 hours! Granted, that included a 2-hour layover at LAX, but still. I love to fly, but that might just “cure” me!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s flattering, Kate,, but…how do I put this tactfully?…you’re on the other side of the globe, so everything’s upside-down, right?

        Don’t think we can cook when everything’s falling from the ceiling. When that hot oven gives way, it’s not going to end well. Plus, there’s no room to walk around, what, on account of the 58 trillion kangaroos you have.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. lol you have so easily reeled off the usual myths most have about our stunning country … you only left out the sharks that will make you there dinner and the red backs on the dunny seat .. feeble excuses, next week then 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed, Ilona, and you came back for more. Welcome to the neighborhood!

        Sorry it took two weeks for me to respond; for whatever reason, WordPress sent your email to the “Spam” folder. You know, computer, one of these days…

        Like

      2. Greatly appreciate your interest, Ilona!

        Here’s what I don’t understand…We humans are supposed to be good at emotions and such. while computers are all about cold. perfect Logic.

        OK, fine. Well, where’s the logic in what WordPress did? These infernal machines!

        Like

  2. my daughter is crazy about blueberries! She’ll LOVE making this! I love how all your recipes there is something unexpected like Tahini! She’s allergic to sesame seeds so unfortunately we’ll have to skip this secret ingredient. Glad we can still add the cardamom! It’s indeed is floral and glorious!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why, thank you, Daniela. Your continued patronage is most flattering!

      Taste-wise, tahini isn’t too far from peanut butter. If your daughter can tolerate peanut butter, put a little in a saucepan, and add about a-third as much milk. Turn the flame to its lowest setting and cook, stirring frequently. Once the two ingredients “marry” (about four minutes), turn off the flame and allow the mixture to cool.

      What you’ll have will be close to tahini’s taste and texture, plus it’ll be safe for your daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

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