Posts Tagged ‘Berries’
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.
It’s really odd how motivation works. Usually when I have free time and the whole day ahead of me I stress out, not knowing how to spend all of that open space. Sure, I could practice and learn a different language, or read a book, or maybe, you know, figure out what to do with my life. But somehow when I actually have the free time to do those things, I can’t bring myself around to accomplishing anything. On the other hand, when I have about twenty things on my to-do list for the day (yes, I’m on of those people), I have textbooks to read and essays to write and a shift at my job to go to, that’s when all of a sudden I have crazy desires to all of a sudden study art history or bake a big cake.
So, despite the fact that I brought four books along with me to California as well as quite a few lists of potential things to cook or bake during my time there, most of the time I found myself lazing around by the pool or beach, doing absolutely nothing. And yet, with my second day back home it seems like there isn’t enough time to ever accomplish the things I need and want to do. Yes, motivation is a strange thing indeed.
Luckily I have my priorities, so when I came home from my trip to the reality of actual things to do, I promptly began making a blueberry crumble pie. It is, after all, one of my very best friend’s birthday today, and she happens to love blueberries (I think). In choosing the recipe, I looked through a few of my books and magazines, finally deciding on one from the July issue of Bon Appetit. I decided on it because I liked the idea of a hint of lemon with the blueberries, as well as the touch of cinnamon with the crumble topping. I did, however, keep with my own trusted pie crust recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Baking cookbook, which also happens to be almost identical to David Lebovitz’s pie crust recipe (don’t you just love reinforcements like that?).
This recipe did not disappoint, and my lovely friend Nicole approved very nicely. It has the wonderful comfort and presentation as a pie, but it also has the satisfying crunch that only a fruit crisp with its streusel-like topping gives. And with blueberries in season, you can’t really go wrong. So please do yourself a favor and find some inspiration, whether it be in the form of a friend’s birthday or just the fact that it’s summer, and make yourself a berry crumble pie.
Blueberry Crumble Pie
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2011
chilled single crust pie dough (recipe below)
2/3 plus 3 tablespoons sugar (I used a bit less seeing as I thought the blueberries were sweet enough)
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 cups (1 lb. 10 oz.) fresh blueberries
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
For the crust, roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 13 inch round. Transfer to 9-9 1/2 inch diameter pie dish, gently pressing dough onto bottom and up sides of dish. Fold overhang under and crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust in several places with a fork, then chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights (in my case, I used lentils). Bake until crust is set about, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and pie weights (if the parchment is sticking to the dough, it’s not cooked long enough). Continue baking until crust is golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes longer. Transfer crust to a wire rack; let cool.
For the filling, whisk 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add blueberries and lemon juice; toss gently to coat and evenly distribute. Let filling stand, tossing occasionally, until berries release their juices, 20-30 minutes.
For the topping, whisk flour, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted butter; mix topping with fingertips to blend.
To assemble the pie, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spoon blueberry filling into crust, then sprinkle topping over. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and topping is golden, about an 1 hour 10 minutes. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning to fast. (As you can probably tell, I should have covered mine up sooner. Although it was still extremely tasty, make sure you check yours to avoid over-browning the crust and topping!) Let pie cool on a wire rack and serve. Can be made up to 8 hours ahead and let stand at room temperature.
From David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert and Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking
Makes enough for one 9 or 10 inch single-crust pie
Amy’s Notes: I’m an all-butter kind of girl when it comes to pie crusts, and I’m sure you have your own opinions on that. This is my favorite pie dough recipe, but feel free to use your own trusted recipe if you’d like.
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and chilled
3 to 4 tablespoons of ice water
In a large bowl using a pastry blender, in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a food processor fitted with a metal blade mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the chilled butter cubes and mix just until butter is broken up into rough 1/4 inch pieces. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water all at once and continue mixing just until the dough begins to hold together. If necessary, mix in an additional tablespoons of water or two.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Form into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least one hour and up to two days.
Have I already mentioned how much I love holidays? Well, I think the Fourth of July might be one of my favorites. It may not be as exciting as Christmas or as sentimental as Valentine’s Day, but I think it’s one of the funnest holidays and definitely the most care-free. There’s nothing like presents or candy to distract from anything and all it comes down to is family, friends and some nice food and weather (and maybe a little fireworks too, for good measure). It’s a holiday where people like me can get a little crazy and happy with themed colors in clothes and food, but people who really couldn’t care less for special events or festivities don’t have to actively take part in anything. And really, with a setting of smoky barbecues and summer sunshine, how could anyone dislike the Fourth of July?
Mine was spent like the probable majority of everyone else’s: with food, family and friends. My two sisters visited home (my whole family except my lone brother stuck out in Wisconsin for the summer), and my boyfriend Waylon came over. After starting the day by eating a red white and blue breakfast, I spent my day by alternating between dabbling in the kitchen and laying in the sun on the deck reading my book. My time in the kitchen was mostly consumed by that treat of a tart pictured above and below, but I also spent some time making some molasses ginger baked beans and a corn and cabbage slaw with a cilantro-orange dressing. Besides those things, for dinner we all had beef burgers, some salmon and chips and homemade guacamole my sister made. The dinner was alright, but nothing too spectacular. Although I enjoyed both the salad and baked beans, I’m not sure I would be quick to make them again.
But the dessert, oh I loved it! I forgot to mention my real biggest reason why the Fourth of July is (almost) my favorite holiday–it gives me an excuse to make a big, themed dessert. If I would have pulled something like this out of the fridge on a normal weeknight, my mom would probably curse me for “making us all fat” or something silly like that. But on a holiday? I have full reign to make something beautiful and high in calories for the sake of festivities.
But really, this tart is too good to save just for holidays. I think the wonderful thing about a fruit custard tart is that it’s pretty and rich enough to dress up for a holiday like the Fourth, but it’s seasonal and fresh enough to be enjoyed any day (forget my mom’s reproaches about sweets). Even though I themed it with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries for a patriotic look, any and all other berries and soft fruits pair just as sweetly. The balsamic in the custard gives it an almost sour kick that I really enjoyed. Almost everyone else loved it too, although my mom found it to be too much. I think if I were to make this again (which I will), I would use less white balsamic vinegar, maybe a third of a cup, before reduction. The crust was rich and perfect with the tart-sweetness of the berries and custards. It was also really easy to work with and press into the edges of the pan. All in all a great fruit custard tart recipe–a wonderful treat any summer day.
White Balsamic Custard Tart with Fresh Berry Topping
From Bon Appetit
Amy’s Notes: As mentioned above, I would use a little less balsamic than called for, unless you’re sure everyone is agreeable to it. Also, I arranged the berry topping differently than suggested in the recipe and is reflected in the pictures.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon whipping cream (I used about two)
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 large strawberries, hulled, sliced
2 1/2-pint containers blueberries
1 1/2-pint container raspberries
For the crust, combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms. Add egg yolk and cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Press dough evenly into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce dough all over with fork. Chill 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 22 minutes. Cool.
For the filling, stir cream and cornstarch in medium bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla; whisk to blend.
Boil vinegar in heavy medium saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water, sugar, and butter. Stir until butter melts; return to boil. Gradually whisk vinegar mixture into egg mixture; return to pan. Whisk until custard thickens and boils, about 1 minute. Strain into bowl; cool. Spread custard in prepared crust. Cover and chill tart at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
For the topping, arrange strawberry slices in star pattern in center of tart. Arrange raspberries in star pattern. Surround with blueberries. Cover loosely and chill until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead.)