Thursday, February 2, 2012


Today is snow day number 4 here in the Laurentians with freezing rain making it impossible to go outside and play or drive anywhere safely.  I have decided to clean out the fridge a bit and process some fruit.  It is always preferable to use seasonal ingredients that have been freshly picked. Of course using only the best ingredients yields the best results, but wasting food has always seemed some what tragic to me.  I often come home from food styling jobs with a bunch of random ingredients which I cannot bear to throw out, and I try to process them as soon as possible.  

This time I brought home a 1 litre container of fresh blackberries, along with some brie, sweet potato mash and goat cheese tarts.  Already having on hand strawberries and blueberries, that sadly were porbably at their peek before I bought them,  I  dusted off a recipe that I usually make in summer which originally required summer peaches and blueberries.  This cake recipe which is quick to assemble (and resembles a tart in final appearance), has a long cooking time, but the results are amazing!  This recipe uses ground tapioca as a thickening agent along with a bit of all purpose flour, and leaves the fruit intact but cooked nonetheless.  The "cake" itself is like a soft shortbread.  The addition of sugar and citrus in this recipe guarantees tremendous flavor even in out of season berries.

It is not necessary to use three types of berries.  Visually blackberries and strawberries combined are more appealing than say blackberries and blueberries, but as long as you use at least one fruit equal in quantity to what the recipe requires you can use the type or types you prefer or have on hand. Although I am not sure how raspberries would hold up in this recipe and I suspect you will end up with a raspberry jam cake. 

Blackberry, Strawberry & Blueberry  Cake
Adapted from a recipe from Gourmet magazine
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) unsalted butter chilled, in 1/2 cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) all purpose flour
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) quick cooking tapioca
  • 375 ml ( 1 1/2 cups) blueberries
  • 375 ml ( 1 1/2 cups) strawberries, halved or quartered depending on size
  • 375 ml ( 1 1/2 cups) blackberries 
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) orange juice
9 inch (24 cm) spring form pan
spice grinder/ coffee grinder

Pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor until well combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg and vanilla and pulse approximately 15 times until dough begins to clump together. Press dough into the base of the spring form pan with fingers and at least half way up the sides of the pan. Chill for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 175C (350F) and position rack in center of oven.
Place 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of the sugar, flour and tapioca in spice grinder and process until tapioca is powdery.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining 90 ml (6 tablespoons) of sugar.  Toss the fruit gently in the mixture and orange juice. Gently transfer  the fruit filling to the chilled crust and cover the spring form pan loosely with aluminum foil. Bake until filling is bubbling in center and crust is golden (about 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes). 

Let cake cool on a rack uncovered for 20 minutes and then carefully remove sides of pan.  Cool cake until just barely warm or room temperature.  Serve.

Try serving this cake with sweetened marscapone cheese, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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