The kitchen garden is surrendering it last offerings and my hedge row foraging is coming to an end. This year the blackberries have been the best ever, fat, juicy and plentiful. My secret location of blackberry bushes hasn’t failed me, and I have picked and picked. My clothing having been caught and torn from blackberry thorns and hands and fingers stained from the dark purple blackberry juice not to mention the scratches on both my arms and legs. With jars full of blackberry jelly and the freezer drawers jammed with frozen berries to be used later in wines and pies I still can’t resist a final look to see if there are any berries left to be picked. I noticed that there are still a small number that are in easy reach and would do very nicely for this recipe.
If there was a prize for a recipe for the simplest of cakes – then this recipe wins. All the ingredients apart from the blackberries are literally tossed into a mixing bowl and beaten for a few minutes until light and fluffy. The soft sweet mixture is then split into two. The first half placed in a lined loaf tin and evenly spread and then layered with blackberries. The remaining half mixture covers these and is smoothed over. The cake is then adorned with a generous scattering of flaked almonds and put into a low oven to cook.
The result, is a soft golden flaked almond toasted cake. The smell is heavenly, it hangs in the air, the almonds giving off a luxurious heavy scent with a note of sweetness from the blackberries. It is best to wait until the cake cools completely before cutting into it, allowing the fruit to cool, but I have to warn you its hard going. I tend to hover over it. prodding, willing it to cool quicker. Whilst I wait the odd toasted almond is peeled from the top of the cake, if only to reassure me of what is to come and that patience will pay off.
Once cooled the cake is easy to slice into, the almonds not only make for a moist cake they give it some stability. The blackberries add colour, texture and a soft fruity taste. I have added around 150g of blackberries but more or less can be added. The basic almond cake itself is good enough to stand on its own so if you only had a handful of blackberries this recipe would still work. I added a few more as I didn’t want to waste them. I always wash the blackberries in cold water and then pick over them for any bits of vegetation. After which I leave them to drain and dry. You need to have them completely dry before adding to the cake mixture.
Blackberry Studded Almond Cake
150g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
175g butter softened
150g caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
A few drops almond essence
4 tbs milk
25g flaked almonds (to decorate)
2lb loaf tin
Turn the oven on to gas mark 3/160C
Grease with butter and line a 2lb loaf tin with grease proof paper.
In a bowl place the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, almond essence, milk and ground almonds.
Beat for a few minutes until the mixture is completely combined and has become light and fluffy.
Carefully spoon half the mixture into the tin and with the back of a spoon, smooth out so that the mixture is level and even. Sprinkle on the blackberries. Cover with the remaining cake mixture.
With a skewer or knife swirl the mixture around, this will dislodge the blackberries slightly so that they are spread around a little. Smooth again with the back of a spoon.
Scatter the flaked almonds and place in the middle of the oven for 1hour 15minutes or there about, depending on your oven.
The top of the cake should be firm to the touch when done and a beautiful golden colour.
Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack and leave until completely cold.
Store in an airtight container. Will last a couple of days.