Blackberry Buttermilk Cake
I’ve always had bad associations with blackberries. Growing up, when I would play with the neighborhood friends during the summertime we’d grab big bowls from our parents kitchens and fill them with all the blackberries growing wildly and liberally nearby. When we’d return to the kitchen our parents would help us make something like a cobbler or a smoothie, and while everyone was mmm-mmming to their treats I would barely manage to swallow a bite. I know I’ve said this before, but I can’t stand most berries. It’s the juicyness! The seeds that feel crunchy and inescapable! I know I am the biggest whiner in the world, and I honestly wish I loved berries. I just can’t.
This did not stop me, however, from plucking quite a few of them while walking along the beach yesterday with my boyfriend. I figured if I can’t enjoy those little juicy berries I might as well get some pleasure out of them by making something with them. And so I decided to make a cake.
I’m glad I did, because I’m pretty sure my family and friends got a lot of pleasure out of eating it. Although I didn’t exactly grab forkfuls of the cake right of the bat, I did try a few bites (trying to avoid as many blackberry chunks as possible). The cake is light, fluffy yet moist, with the soft scent of orange that really compliments the blackberry top. It could easily be served as a coffee cake or breakfast treat, although my dad and boyfriend both thoroughly enjoyed it for dessert alongside a cup of coffee.
If you’re not that hot about the idea of berries, try substituting the blackberries with cherries and the orange zest with almond extract. Other ideas are blueberries or raspberries and lemon, or really whatever you think fit. But really, if you happen to have blackberry bushes overflowing your backyard or neighborhood or whatever it may be, pluck some up and make this cake. Even if you can’t put up with the little seed-filled berries themselves, I promise that someone else (or more likely, many others) will gladly, gladly put up with them baked into this cake.
Blackberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2011
Amy’s Notes: I didn’t like how much height of the cake there was in comparison to the thin layer of blackberries in the original recipe and pictures, so I preferred to use a 10-inch springform pan to flatten the cake out a bit. The adjusted height is reflected in the photos above. Also notable– this cake is best on the first day and the top becomes rather gummy if let to sit overnight. If you can’t eat it all in the first day, it freezes great.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
2 1/3 cups cake flour (sifted, then measured) plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blackberries
1/4 cup plus 1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Powdered sugar (for dusting)
Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Butter pan; line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Arrange berries in a single layer in bottom of pan; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 (or a little less) cup sugar.
Sift 2 1/3 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup butter and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and zest. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until incorporated. Pour batter over berries in pan; smooth top.
Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes (I’d check the cake after 45 minutes though). Let cool in pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin, sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan bottom; peel off parchment. Dust top generously with powdered sugar and let cool completely.