Absence and Berry Cakes

31 Jul

(So, where on earth have I been for the past four months? Well, I was a food-related fundraising intern for a wonderful organisation called Action Against Hunger, working with restaurants to join a campaign which the charity runs in September and October. Interning full-time meant that blogging fell down my To Do list, but I hope to make up for that over the coming weeks. If I have any readers left, in the immortal words of Sam Cooke, bring it on home to me! Now, the main event…)

Unlike 99.99% of the world population, I do not believe that fresh raspberries and blueberries are a sign that the God of summer loves us and wants us to be happy. I don’t find them offensive, just squidgy and kind of bland. I do have fond memories of picking fresh blackberries at summer camp and eating them churned into vanilla ice cream, but that’s kind of it.

But it’s summer after all, so I decided to confront my own prejudice and bake with berries. First I made a batch of raspberry-rhubarb muffins from the Flour Bakery cookbook by Joanne Chang as a birthday present for my father. Second was a raspberry-blackberry Bundt cake, based on a recipe from the ever-excellent Smitten Kitchen. Apologies for the lack of photographs – both recipes turned out less-than-photogenic due to some serious pan-sticking issues, and I was on holiday and feeling lazy.

(Also, I find as I get older than I’m becoming more of a cook than a baker. A less generous person would attribute it to my shortening attention span, but I’d like to think that I’m becoming more relaxed and generally willing to go with the flow. But the simplest explanation is that I’m out of practice.)

Despite all the messiness, both recipes turned out delicious. They work on a similar principle: make a vanilla-scented cake batter (the muffins included lots of melted butter, eggs, crème fraiche, and whole milk), then stir through whatever berries tickle your fancy. When baked, the berries (and rhubarb) become jammy pockets of tartness that refresh you in the midst of rich, moist, very sweet cake. It’d make a perfect mid-morning snack with a cup of strong, milky coffee.

A cake so good I couldn’t resist taking a bite before photographing it.

So will you find me locked away scarfing carton after carton of raspberries, eyes gleaming with the fervor of the newly converted? Well, no. But berries and I are now on nodding terms, and that’s an improvement!

2 Responses to “Absence and Berry Cakes”

  1. Erin July 31, 2012 at 1:03 PM #

    Woop you’re back! Looks yummy – appearances are overrated. Pls may I have the recipe?

    Also, I love blueberries as a breakfast thing – stirred into a bowl of wheatabix they are truly divine!

  2. Lynne Hodgman August 1, 2012 at 3:35 AM #

    Ah, Sarah, I’ve been missing this — your blog, I mean. And as one who adores berries, especially raspberries right off the bush, I am amazed we don’t share this taste. Ah well. You like goat cheese and rosemary. What can I say. I just made buttermilk/strawberry/maple muffins. I find that a few tablespoons of maple accents the fruitiness of many fruits. So now my muffins have both vanilla and maple. The strawberries have been more flavorful than the raspberries this year, in the markets anyway, so I am chopping them into salads and scones and muffins and milkshakes…
    I look forward to seeing what you will do with your new stash of American chocolate chips and maple syrup!

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