I went foraging for blackberries last week along our street where wild blackberry bushes seem to flourish along the ditches in amongst wild juniper and other shrubs. Having tried to pick these wild blackberries over the past couple of years, I knew that the old women who live along our street have probably managed to get there ahead of me and that I’d be lucky to find any. These older ladies are experts at knowing exactly when the wild arugula, blackberries, asparagus or fennel that grow along our road are perfect to pick and I believe they must sneak out at night to hunt them down because they ALWAYS seem to get to them before I do. I did discover a path down into the valley behind our farmhouse earlier this summer when I was exploring, and saw at the time that the path had blackberry bushes completely lining both sides all the way down into the valley.
The trail was a bit tricky to walk down so I knew the older women probably wouldn’t venture down there to pick berries and I was very happy to see this in fact was true on my recent blackberry scouting trip. The path was full of blackberries just waiting for me, and I was indeed able to pick a huge big bag full. The number of scratches and bug bites I obtained along the way of filling my container did dampen the excitement of my bounty to some extent, but I was still excited that I FINALLY managed to pick some wild blackberries after trying for three years.
Once home, I washed and cleaned my berry treasure and then realized I would not be able to simply eat them all fresh before they spoiled and that I needed to find some ways to use them up. I made blackberry sorbet, blackberry lemonade, froze some, and finally I made two Blackberry Apple Cakes, one for our farmhouse guests, and one for us. The cake itself was similar to a moist coffee cake with a crumb topping, and the combination of apples and blackberries worked out really well. I used the last of the apples from our little tree which are semi-sweet apples which helped to balance the tartness of the wild blackberries perfectly. You could use blueberries or raspberries in this cake in place of the wild blackberries, and I believe even frozen ones would work just fine.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 6 Ounces (175 g) Unsalted Butter At Room Temperature
- 1 1/3 (150 g) Cups Brown Sugar Plus 1 Tablespoon
- 4 Medium Sized Apples
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 1/2 Cups Plus 2 Tablespoons (200 g) All Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 5.5 Ounces (150 g) Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Blackberries
For The Topping:
- 1/4 Cup Butter
- 1/3 Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease a 9 inch spring-form pan.
- To make the topping, melt the butter, and then add the butter and other topping ingredients into a small bowl.
- Use your fingers to rub the mixture together until it is soft and crumbly.
- Peel and core the apples and slice each into 8 to 10 wedges.
- In a frying pan, add two tablespoons of the butter to the extra one tablespoon of the brown sugar and heat until melted, and then add the apple wedges and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the apples have softened and are beginning to color.
- Cool to room temperature.
- In a bowl, beat together the remaining butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy with a hand mixer, then add the eggs one at a time, beating between each.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture along with half the yogurt and stir to mix.
- Add the remaining flour mixture with the yogurt and stir just until combined.
- Spoon half the cake batter into the prepared pan, then top this with a third of the topping mix.
- Spoon the remaining cake batter over the topping mix and smooth with a spoon.
- Add another third of the topping mix, then arrange the apple wedges and blackberries on top.
- Sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining topping mix.
- Bake for about an hour and fifteen minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- If the cake browns too much before it has fully baked, cover top with aluminum foil.
- Cool the cake 15 minutes and then carefully remove the sides and transfer the cake to a serving dish.
- Cool to room temperature before serving.