Archive for the 'cake' Category

Lemon Blackberry Pound Cake

Blackberry cake 2

The blackberries are early this year. By weeks, at least – usually we catch them (if we’re lucky) only at the very end of our trip, around mid-August. But this year we arrived to find the first few already hanging heavy on their vines, and we’ve discovered a few spots where we fill our empty coffee cups, sand pails or whatever containers we can rummage from the car each day.

I learned, from experience and the book I’m blissfully in the middle of reading, that some blackberry vines produce fruit and others – the thick, spiky ones – act as the first line of defense, reaching out beyond the edges of the thicket to grab at your clothes and skin as you reach for ripe berries. The darkest, sweetest ones will all but leap into your fingers-I taught W if they resist, even a little, to leave them for next time. The beauty of a blackberry bush is that they don’t all ripen at once, supplying a steady stream of fruit over the summer.

Blackberry cake 1

(Pardon the hasty iPhone photos I took five minutes before heading out to dinner, cutting into the cake while it was still warm in order to taste it before we left, in case it was gone by the time we got back. With 15 people in the house, an even split of kids and adults, you never know.)

This morning there were brown sugar, blackberry + white chocolate scones; this afternoon I slid a lemon blackberry pound cake into the oven, made with butter from D Dutchmen Dairy and eggs from Nanoose Bay. Lemons and blackberries together are magic.

Attachment-1 copy

It’s a simple batter to stir together – just what I need in the middle of summer. It would be equally fantastic with raspberries or blueberries, and is perfect to slice for hungry beach-goers in the late afternoon, or top with a dollop of whipped cream for a fancier dessert.

Lemon Blackberry Pound Cake

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen (don’t thaw them) blackberries, raspberries or blueberries

Glaze (optional):
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, stir together the butter and sugar, stir in the eggs, lemon zest and juice until well blended.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half to the butter mixture, stir just until combined, then stir in the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Gently fold in the blackberries.

Scrape the batter into a greased or parchment-lined 8×4-inch loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. If you like, stir together the lemon juice and icing sugar and drizzle over the cake while still warm.

Serves 8-10.

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August 02 2015 | cake | 4 Comments »

Pear Spice Cake with Salted Caramel

Salted caramel birthday cake

It was 27 degrees today with sun and blue skies in Calgary. Tomorrow, the forecast is for snow and a high of 2. Back off fall, you’re coming on too strong.

The (very small) consolation of going from high twenties to zero is that you can pull on your woolies, turn on the oven and bake a pie. Or a cake. And eat the whole thing yourself because fall just up and snubbed you altogether, just like spring did. It’s tough getting the shaft.

salted caramel cake 5

With my condolences, I offer a spice cake with salted caramel. (Now that swimsuit season is about as far away as it’s going to get.) Granted, I still have no oven to turn on. This is a cake I made way back when I had an actual kitchen, not a microwave on a cart in the dining room and a barbecue in the back yard. I made it to use up overripe pears and salted caramel that did so well on chocolate cupcakes, and then I shared the cupcakes and the cake seemed like leftovers.


I’m about ready for more salted caramel, and the pears are starting to pile up. And if I can’t make our house smell like butter, sugar and cinnamon to offset the blanket of wet snow we’ll be scraping off our cars a week into September, I’ll take comfort in knowing you guys can.


Besides, it’s always somebody’s birthday somewhere.

caramel cake 2

Pear Spice Cake with Salted Caramel

This recipe may look long and complex, but it’s really just cake, frosting and salted caramel, each easy enough to make on their own, then put together. The caramel can be made at least a day ahead, if you want to make it on another day.

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each cloves and allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
2 ripe pears, coarsely grated

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 cups icing sugar, plus extra if needed
2-4 Tbsp. milk or cream

Salted Caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray two 8 or 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, beat the sugars and eggs for 2-3 minutes, until thick and pale. beat in the oil and vanilla. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture along with the grated pears and any juices that have accumulated underneath them (grate them onto a cutting board or into a flat bowl or cake pan), beating on low speed or stirring just until combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Cool for 15 minutes in the pans, then invert them onto wire racks to cool. If you like, slice the domed part off the tops of the cakes using a serrated knife.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar and milk or cream, adding extra sugar or milk if needed to achieve a spreadable consistency. Spread over the cake layers, and if you like, spoon some into a frosting bag with a star tip and pipe over the top of the cake – this will provide ridges for the caramel to drip from.

To make the caramel, stir together the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. When it comes to a boil, stop stirring and swirl the pan often, cooking until it starts to turn golden. When it starts to change colour don’t leave the pan – swirl it often until it turns a deep golden – the colour of maple syrup. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream – it will foam up. Whisk in the salt and let cool to room temperature – it can be slightly warm, but not so warm that it will melt the icing.

Once cooled, dribble the caramel over the cake. Serves 16-20.

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September 07 2014 | cake | 14 Comments »

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