Last weekend we made an incredible discovery; a veritable magic porridge pot of Stratford blackberries, wild and free and ready for picking. There can be nothing better. With cycling helmets still on we got stuck in, dodging stingers and cursing the thorns, and we soon got to enjoy the spoils of our efforts. Such freshly picked berries deserve to be eaten as soon as possible, but they also deserve to be made into a blackberry upside down cake and they got what they deserved.
The cake recipe, adapted from the River Cottage Handbook No.8’s plum upside down cake – substituting the 500g plums for 250g foraged blackberries, is as follows:
- 200g self raising flour – I don’t actually have any self raising flour, so to create the self raising flour out of plain flour I added 1 level tsp baking powder and an extra pinch of salt to the 200g plain flour. I also used brown flour, the River Cottage recipe doesn’t specify either way. You can chose your own preference, just think in terms of if you want white or brown bread.
- Pinch of sea salt
- 200ml butermilk – which I also didn’t have, so I made the equivalent using 200ml milk with a tsp lemon juice left to stand for at least 10 minutes before using in the recipe.
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g softened, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 125g caster sugar – I always use golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 250g blackberries
- 60g runny honey
- 1 tsp rose water (the recipe calls for 2-3 tsps but given that blackberries have more water than plums I reduced the liquid added here)
I used a 21″ loose bottom cake tin. Recipe called for a 23″ one, but this was all I had and it worked fine and dandy.
Heat oven to 180°C.
- First line your cake tin – this is important so that the blackberry juices don’t leek out in the oven when it’s all cooking.
- Next prep the blackberries – wash and gently pat dry with kitchen roll or a clean tea towel to get as much excess water off as possible. Arrange all blackberries on the bottom of the cake tin so that they are evenly spread. Drizzle with the honey and then with the rosewater. Leave to one side while you get on with the sponge.
- For the sponge, using a wooden spoon or electric whisk beat the softened butter until creamy. Then add the caster sugar and beat until completely combined.
- Add one egg at a time and beat together with the mixture. If the butter/sugar mixture looks like it’s curdling a bit when you add the eggs, add a tsp of your flour to help bring it all back together.
- Combine your flour and pinch of salt so it’s evenly spread throughout (if using plain flour make sure you’ve added in the baking powder and extra pinch of salt).
- Now add the flour incrementally and add the buttermilk/homemade milk lemon mixture in small doses so it goes – add a bit of flour, mix, add a bit of buttermilk, mix and so on. Your sponge mixture will slightly resemble a batter mix – don’t be alarmed, this is how it’s meant to be.
- Now, make sure the oven’s up to temperature and then grab the cake tin. The sponge mixture can now be added carefully over the top of the blackberry, honey, rosewater bed upon which it will sit. Make sure this is spread evenly and try and level out the mixture as, remember, the top here will actually be the bottom – what with the whole upside down element.
- Quickly shove the cake in the oven and leave for at least 40 minutes. The River Cottage recipe recommends 45 – 50 minutes in the oven, and our cake probably took about 50. Check the cake with a wooden skewer and when it comes out with no batter on your ready to pull it out.
- Leave the cake to cool for about 10 minutes, but you still want it warm when turning it out onto a plate. Take the outside, surrounding part of the cake tin off, leaving the bottom part, then put the plate you will serve the cake on on top of the spongy part and, using a tea towel as it might be hot still, turn the cake onto the plate so that the blackberries are now on top.
We served with crème fraiche and it was awesome. The cake really does need to be kept in the fridge because the blackberries will start to turn – this cake lasted just under a week before we polished the lot off.