Every year I’m surprised when blackberries are ripe in August. Blackberries should be an autumn fruit, designed for jam making and comforting crumbles. And yet this year I was picking them in burning sunshine, wondering how soon I could get back into the shade. The box I used to collect them steamed up in the time it took to get home as the berries had been so warmed by the sun.
Foraging for blackberries is an easy way to relax and unwind. It can be quite a mindful experience, despite the prickles, even in the heat. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you have gathered a decent amount: whether you just want enough to add to your breakfast, you’re planning to make jam or you just want to freeze them for later.
Freezing blackberries couldn’t be simpler: just rinse them thoroughly, allow them to air dry for a while and then spread them out in a single layer on a baking tray to freeze. Once they are frozen they can go into a bag and you can use any amount you need at any time: they won’t stick together. Take some out for your breakfast, use some for cakes and crumbles, or make your jam when you have the time and it’s not 30 degrees outside.
I have no idea where this recipe came from originally but my mum made a blackberry cake for us when we went to visit for the first time after lockdown. It barely lasted the afternoon and she passed on a copy of the recipe her friend had given her. This is my version.
All-in-one cakes are not my favourite way to bake but this works perfectly. It’s quick, simple and delicious. A hint of cinnamon and the layer of blackberries running through the middle make it that little bit different from your average cake.
You could make it dairy-free by using non-dairy margarine and gluten-free by using a gluten-free self raising flour alternative. It has a slightly crumbly texture so if that bothers you just add a teaspoon of xanthan gum to the recipe.
150g butter or non-dairy margarine, softened
120g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
180g SR flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Icing sugar, for dusting
Set the oven to 170°C.
Grease, and line the base of, an 8″ springform tin.
Put all the ingredients except the blackberries and icing sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and well combined.
Spread half the mixture over the base of tin and make sure it is smoothed out evenly.
Sprinkle over the blackberries evenly.
Add the remaining cake mixture and carefully smooth out again – try to avoid pulling up the blackberries.
Bake for around 50 minutes to an hour, until golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin and then remove from the baking tin.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.