November 7, 2011

Blackberry Cake

Even though I knew they were slightly (OK, a lot) out of season, I just couldn't stop myself from grabbing a package of blackberries at the store last week (those darn impulse issues).  I usually try to eat produce in season but these looked too darn gorgeous to pass by (I do admit to berry issues as well).  I told myself I was willing to lower my expectations in the flavor department this far out of season (addicts start making deals with themselves, no?)  Well, no lowering of the standards was required as the fruit was delicious and just bursting with berry-goodness.  So, as someone who is always a day late and a dollar short, my planned postings related to all things fall (apples, cranberry, pumpkin, etc.) will have to wait just another week (or two, or...) while I wax nostalgic over summer berries.  As a farewell to the end of the flower season as well, a rosewater cream elevates this dessert beyond 'everyday', and is nearly as delicious as the cake itself.

I mean, really?  Could you have said no, either?  I love blackberries for their flavor alone, but they are also packed with many health benefits, including oodles of anti-oxidants, vitamin C, and lots of other vitamins and minerals.  They are also a great source of fiber.  Although I used fresh for this cake, frozen berries would work fine too.  They were true to their name, and were such a deep, dark, intense purple, they were nearly black!

Another reason to love this recipe is that it is so easy to prepare.  This is a simple cake that comes together in a snap.  Perhaps a humble dessert if served plain, the rosewater cream elevates this to an elegant level suitable for guests or special occasions.

The cream is also easy a cinch to make, and can be thrown together while the cake is baking.  Mascarpone cheese is mixed with some powdered sugar, pomegranate molasses and rose water.  Mascarpone is a good source of protein and I prefer to use it over cream cheese; however, cream cheese could easily be substituted.  I L.O.V.E. both pomegranate molasses and rose water, and think they compliment all things berry so well.  I found mine at a local Mediterranean market.  The resulting color is gorgeous, and the flavors are an intricate balance of fruity, flowery and exotic.

I made this in a 10-inch springform pan to showcase all the lovely berries, and sprinkled just a few teaspoons of turbinado sugar over the top for flavor and interest.  The berries soften and settle down into the dough while baking, and end up just peeking through the tender crust of the cake.

Almond oil and almond extract give just a hint of flavor to compliment the berry notes.  If you don't have almond oil, use olive or canola.  I've been using nut oils in many recipes for quite some time now, and am a big fan.  Nut oils are a great source of heart-healthy fat, and I think they add another layer, albeit subtle, of flavor.  They are also a great substitute for saturated fats in recipes.

The cake texture is soft and light and belies the healthy aspects of this dessert.  Per my usual, I've used whole wheat flour for the cake, this time using spelt flour.  If you haven't tried baking with spelt flour yet, I strongly encourage you to give it a try.  It is a soft and delicate flour, and I've simply loved everything I've used it in.  I think it is great for desserts when traditional whole wheat might be just a little too heavy.

If you are missing your summer fruit, or just want a break from all things apple, pumpkin and cranberry, this simple cake with an unexpectedly exotic sidekick might be just the perfect culinary escape.

Blackberry Cake:

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup almond oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, preferably free-range organic
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat, white whole wheat, barley flour, etc.)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground coriander

12 ounces fresh blackberries, or frozen and thawed

Rosewater Cream:

8 ounces of mascarpone cream (or cream cheese)
4 tbs powdered sugar
1 tbs pomegranate molasses
1-2 tsp rosewater (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan or cake pan, lining the bottom with parchment paper.  Beat the butter, oil and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, on medium speed, until light.  With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining ingredients and mix until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle occasionally.  

Sift together the remaining dry ingredients over a piece of wax paper.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly lift up the wax paper and add the dry ingredients to the bowl, mixing until just blended.  Pour into the greased pan and spread evenly.  Place the berries evenly over the batter.  Sprinkle with a few teaspoons of sugar if desired.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle to remove the outer ring (run a knife along the edge first).  Remove cake to a serving plate.

While the cake is baking, mix together all of the cream ingredients until smooth.  Refrigerate until needed.  Wait until the cake is completely cooled before garnishing with the cream, or it will melt.


  1. Even if this cake seems to be out of season, it looks really fantastic. Plus, this pink cream looks awesome and really yummy. I'm not a huge fan of blackberries, every time I eat one, it taste's watering... maybe I'm just unlucky. I'm willing to try this cake because I'm sure it is goood!

  2. I don't think I could have resisted those berries either! They are gorgeous and that cake looks wonderful!

  3. wow. you have 2, not 3 of my favorite ingredients: berries, greek yoghurt and spelt flour. o my... and you use flavored mascarpone to accompany this... I'm in love. is this your own recipe? so original. brava.

  4. Kim! I hope you will try the blackberries again. If you like raspberries you should like these too. Even raspberries! Those are, I think my fave, although I never find them fresh and always have to use frozen ;-( Thanks for coming by.

  5. Hi Faith...thank you so much for the sweet comments. I do have a very hard time in the produce talks to me all the time, and it usually is something along the lines of 'take me home' ;-)

    Hey Barbara! So great to hear from you. Thank you so much for the generous comments. Yes, this is my simple and humble recipe! I think I love the mascarpone cream as much as the cake too!

  6. That looks amazing! I love cakes baked with fruit on top, so delicious - send some over, please? ;)


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