The Undefeated Baker
Poeth(or hot if you’re reading this in anywhere other than Wales), it has been uncharacteristically hot here in Wales this week. Summer in the UK usually consist of brief bursts of summer sun, likely for around 3-4 days (if we’re lucky) before the sun retreats in defeat of grey clouds once again. This week is indeed our burst as we experienced our hottest day of the year so far (although I’m pretty sure they report this every time we are graced with a little bit of sunshine). In what I’m sure will go down in records, Wales reached an astonishing 29C, hardly baking weather! Luckily during my own week off, the weather was not so kind so I still have plenty of recipes to bring you.
Summer for means relaxing in the garden, outings to the beach or drives through the countryside, of course accompanied with plenty of seasonal food (& probably a cider or two). Munching on salads, breads & oils al fresco. Seafood & pub lunches in a beer garden somewhere near the coast. Leisurely afternoon teas in the garden . Double scoops & waffle cones in my favourite ice cream parlour. The meals may be lighter & simpler at this time of the year but that’s not to say that they’re any less satisfying.
When the weather is as hot as it is today, it’s hard to even imagine attempting to convey those summer flavours into baked goods. I will not be undefeated by the season though (where there’s a will, there’s a cake).
When I think of summer desserts, I think of Eton mess, ice cream & sorbet, fruit salads, dainty petit fours or summer pudding.. basically anything small & possibly chilled. But as well all know, I’m still partial to a bit of cake. Summer baking, cakes in particular, are not treats to be overlooked at this time of year. Especially as this is the season when we have some of the years best natural sweet offering in the form of summer fruits. Blueberries, cherries, raspberries, rhubarb, blackberries, strawberries, apricots, peaches.. a whole plethora of natures finest, all of which work particularly well in a cake.
So when I’m not preserving these glorious fruits (& my maslin pan will see a lot of action in the coming months) I like to experiment a little in the kitchen. Berries I find, work very well in baking. Oozing their colourful pigments & juices, adding life, sweetness & moisture what was once a simple sponge. Using a little wholemeal flour, with its slightly earth, more savoury flavour to contrast the fruit, really accommodates the prominence that these joyful fruits truly deserve. Add in a little lemon zest, a drizzle of icing & you’ve got a beautiful, jewelled summer berry cake, bursting with summer celebration (even on a hot day).
SUMMER BERRY CAKE
(makes one 20cm cake)
- 250g butter
- 340g soft light brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- zest x1 large lemon
- 200ml yogurt
- 100g plain flour
- 300g wholemeal flour
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 110g raspberries
- 125g blackberries
For the icing:
- Juice of half a lemon
- 50-70g icing sugar
- Grease & line a round 20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter & sugar until light & pale
- Add in the eggs, one at a time & beat again
- Add in the vanilla extract & lemon zest
- Stir through half of the yogurt buttermilk (100ml)
- In a separate bowl sift together the flours & baking powder
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixture & fold through
- Repeat this, stirring through the remaining yogurt & folding in the remainder of the dry ingredients
- Pour half of the mixture into the cake tin
- Gently push half of the berries into the mixture, only placing them halfway in (they will sink as the cake bakes)
- Cover with the remaining cake mixture & top with the remaining berried
- Bake at 180°C for 1 hour, 50 minutes
- Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in its tin before running a knife along its edge & releasing the clip
- Remove the cake & allow to cool fully on a cooling rack
- Once the cake is cool, make the icing by simply combining the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make a runny consistency
- Use a spoon or small jug to drizzle this all over the top of the cake