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 »

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

WOS 7

We’ve been exploring different parts of our province this summer, checking out places I’ve been meaning to visit that don’t require a huge driving commitment. Turns out there’s a whole lot more to see around here than I thought. I had heard mention a few times over the past year of a provincial park I’d never visited before – Writing-on-Stone, which is south of Lethbridge, almost at the US border, and apparently quite stunning. We took a drive. It was long, but beautiful-I love driving through the prairies, especially when we get the chance to pass grain elevators. There aren’t many left.

Grain elevators 2
Grain elevator 1

The drive took us through Nanton (Bomber Command Museum! epic candy store with antiques in the back!) When we were getting close, I had to keep checking my map; the landscape still looked like barely rolling, grassy farmland. There was no sign of hoodoos or badlands – until suddenly, at the turnoff indicated on my map, there was. The ground dropped away to reveal some of the most stunning rock formations I’ve ever seen.

WOS 1

Sunken into the prairie grasslands of southern Alberta, Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi in Milk River valley contains the largest collection of First Nation petroglyphs and pictographs in North America.

(There was a fantastic story in today’s National Post on Writing-on-Stone, as well as nearby Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.)

WOS 2

There are also medicine wheels – large stone circles ranging in age from 250 to about 5000 years old – in the area, including the Sundial Medicine Wheel. If you’re into local history, this is a great way to spend the weekend.

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WOS collage 2

The campground, shaded by cottonwood trees and located right beside Milk River, is open year-round, and in the summer there are showers! (It’s the little things. W has become enamoured with the idea of camping lately, and I’m enamoured with the idea of camping where the grizzlies are at a minimum.) Note: last week, there was a contaminated water advisory issued for Milk River at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.

We stayed overnight in Lethbridge, and en route back took a detour to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, an archaeological site and one of the world’s best-preserved buffalo jumps.

WOS collage 1

If you do have camping plans this summer – at Writing-on-Stone or elsewhere, bannock is easy to back and mix up at your campsite – you can even do it right in the bag. It’s a simple blend of flour, baking powder and salt, with a little oil rubbed in – the combination is very similar to Bisquick or other baking mixes, and in fact turns out a pretty good scone. At the campground, all you need to do is add water, stir until you have a soft dough, then pat into small rounds (or one big one, to cut into wedges) and cook in a hot skillet over the fire, or shape the dough into ropes to twist around sticks and roast over hot coals. I’m always looking for new things to roast over hot coals.

bannock

Serve your bannock warm, with butter and jam. (I lean toward saskatoon. Very prairie.)

Bannock

There are so many versions of this recipe – this is a version of a traditional Métis recipe, and came from the Parks Canada website.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt; rub in the oil until well blended and pack in a zip-lock bag. When you’re camping, add 1 cup water and mix to a soft dough. Pat or roll balls of dough to cook over the campfire, or twist ropes around sticks to roast. Serve warm, with jam.

Saskatoon Jam

Adapted from Bernardin.

5 cups lightly crushed saskatoon berries
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pkg. pectin
5-6 cups sugar

In a large, deep pot, bring the saskatoon berries, lemon juice and pectin to a boil. Measure out the sugar and set aside.

Once the berry mixture is at a full rolling boil, add all of the sugar. Return to a full, hard boil (one that can’t be stirred down) and boil hard for 1 full minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Ladle the jam into hot, freshly washed jars. Seal with lids and cool completely; store in the fridge or see the Bernardin website for instructions on how to further process for longer-term shelf storage. (It also keeps well in the freezer – use plastic or zip-lock freezer bags.)

Makes about 6 cups.

I love showing off the province I live in – thanks to Travel Alberta for helping me do it! As always, words and opinions are my own.

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July 29 2015 | bread and breakfast | 5 Comments »

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