It’s been all about blackberries lately. The blackberries came on late this year, but they are here at last. And judging by this lovely blog post, and this one, I’m not the only one taking full advantage of blackberry season this summer. As I ran last week, I could smell the rich, winey scent of overripe berries fermenting where they had dropped from the brambles alongside the trail. I’ve been out at my special secret blackberry foraging spot the last few weekends, picking like crazy while they last. And I’ve got an extensive array of scratches to show for it. As always, I meant to stick to the easy to reach ones, but inevitably I step just a little further into the bramble because the best ones are always just another inch away, enticing me forward like the door to Narnia.
The thing about blackberry season is that it comes at the end of the summer. So on a sunny weekend afternoon I’m momentarily torn between the desire to lie in the hammock and the urgency of getting out there and gathering those berries while I still can. But once I’m out in the sunshine and fresh air, having a long, lazy conversation with my Sissy about everything in the world while our eyes scan for ripe berries and our hands fall into the metronomic rhythm of berry gathering, there is nowhere I would rather be.
I’ve made four batches of jam. I like to give it away as gifts and we ended up rationing our final few jars from last year to make it through this summer. Not this time! We have also been throwing handfuls of fat, purple, juicy berries into the blender with ice cream to make milk shakes. The blackberry peach shake was a surprise favorite.
I had enough berries left to freeze several cookie sheets worth to use this winter, when the golden sticky afternoons of gathering fresh berries are a distant memory.
And then there is this blackberry cake recipe I had been waiting to try. I first saw the recipe in the July issue of Bon Appetit Magazine—much too early for fresh berries here. Then I saw Cristina’s blueberry version. It’s hard to wait for fresh blackberries sometimes—and especially this year–but I had a feeling this recipe would be worth it.
Blackberry Buttermilk Cake
(adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
- 2 1/3 cups cake flour 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 salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Use a 9″-10″ springform pan
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 cup sugar.
Combine 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 cake bounces back when pressed gently with fingertip, about 1 hour 25 minutes for a 9″ pan and about 1 hour for a 10″ pan. Let cool in pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan bottom; peel off parchment. Let cool completely.