Monday, August 6, 2012

wild blackberry sour cream coffee cake

Dear Blog Friends,

Oh, how I have missed you.  If I would have had any idea of what last week was going to be like, I would have forewarned readers that posts were not going to be an option, or I would have planned ahead, pre-blogged, and scheduled the posts to publish automatically.  Instead, over a week ago, I prepared a menu as always, bought groceries according to what I was wanting to share with you, and then watched them all sit in the pantry and fridge, day after day, not being used.

Lesson #1 about food blogging:  You have to be home to cook the food you want to blog about.

Because I am not quite sure what this week will hold either, I have prepared this time, and what fun it has been to be back in the kitchen...  can we say therapy???

What seems like ions ago (but just the first of June), our family went on a trip to the mountains.  Our plan was to rent a cabin with a great view, swim in the pool, float on the river, and just be together.  That's exactly what we did.  We didn't leave each others' side, didn't rush, didn't get into a lick of traffic, even ate every meal (except the last) in the cabin.  

It was glorious.

Our Lab, Charley, joined us on the trip.  After John got back from walking him the first morning, he came back to tell me that the access road leading to our cabin was flanked with tons of wild blackberry bushes.  Before the four-day excursion was over, we had picked a ton.  I'm not sure John and I could have been more happy! It's the little things, ya know?

When we got home, I spread the lot on a couple of pans and froze them before putting into Ziploc bags. It has taken weeks for us to decide how to use them.  We wanted to find just the right recipe/s that would deliver a level of flavor compatible to the amount of work it took to collect the berries.

This recipe didn't let me down.

I am a huge fan of rustic and simple.  I like the idea of cooking in a cast-iron skillet, because it reminds me of watching Ma cook, because it's nostalgic, and because it's so easy.  I've done coffee cakes before that are prepared in bundt pans and require holding one's breath, crossing fingers, and crossing toes to get them to come out just right.  The challenge is fun, but the results are not always dependable.

This recipe is dependable.

The berries used here are wild.  Tame ones will work just as well, but I can't help but love wild ones more.  They're petite and sweet, with a few tart ones thrown in.  The cake slices have a pretty presentation, with a layer of fruit topped by a streusel-type crumble shining through.  I do think that sometimes using thawed frozen fruit in baked goods makes the end result even better, as it tends to keep the crumb moist and less likely to dry out.

So, there you have it, folks... the first of a couple of recipes highlighting this summer's find.  It's highly recommended to enjoy this treat fresh out of the oven alongside a steaming cup of coffee.  Curl up with a good book, and you have yourself the perfect way to spend an evening!

Wild Blackberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake - 
makes 1 cake

For the cake

   1     cup all-purpose flour
1/2     tsp. baking soda
1/4     tsp. salt
1/4     tsp. ground ginger
1/4     cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2     cup sugar
   1     large egg
1/2     cup sour cream
   2     cups blackberries
~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a large cast-iron skillet.
~ In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger.  Set 
~ In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in 
    the egg. 
~ Mix in the sour cream. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated. 
    The batter will be thick.  Spread into the prepared skillet and top with blackberries, 
    pressing them into the batter  slightly.
For the topping

   3      tbsp. sugar
   3      tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/4      cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3      cup all-purpose flour
1/2      tsp. ground cinnamon
   1      Pinch of salt
~ In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, flour, cinnamon, and salt until well 
~ Crumble the topping on top of the cake.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until top is lightly 
    browned  and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for several 
    minutes before serving.
~ Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Recipe from The Pastry Affair

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