May 16, 2014

Sunken Berry Cake (and mother's day)

This past weekend was Mother’s Day. I hope you all called your momma’s if you couldn't give her a big hug. I got to see my mom, my grandma and one of my aunties. Triple whammy. Plus my awesome cousin (and her dad, my dad and her boyfriend, lots of family!) We were having a big potluck lunch and I was asked to bring dessert. So I turned to one of the best cakes I know.

This cake is a standby, I make it all the time. It is my husband’s favorite cake and it is simple and foolproof. It’s great for simple dinner parties and family gatherings. Its what I call “an everyday cake” not too sweet or complicated, but still yummy and special.

I use what ever fruit is in season. The original recipe was written for grapes, but I have never made it with grapes. This weekend was a mix frozen marrion- and blueberries, but I've made it with persimmons, cranberries and rhubarb. All of them are amazing.

This recipe was originally written with All-purpose flour but I make it gluten free more often than not. I don’t bother to add xanthan gum when using GF flour and there are not ill-effects.

2 sticks butter, at room temp
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 Eggs, at room temp
zest from one lemon (or part of an orange, depending on the fruit you use)
1 tsp almond extract (I hardly ever have this on hand, I usually use vanilla, although I was out of even that this weekend and left it out entirely and it was fine)
1 Cup GF baking mix or AP flour
1 cup almond meal or finely ground toasted almonds (see note)
2 tsp baking powder
1-2 cups berries or seasonal fruit.
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter/spray and flour (make sure to use GF if you are using it in the cake) a 9 inch spring form pan. (I didn't have a spring form for a long time and would make this in just a regular cake pan and it was fine.)
2. Cream together butter and sugar. Let the mixer go for 3-5 minutes so it gets nice and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix in between each. Add zest and almond extract.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together almonds, flour and baking powder. Add to the butter, sugar, egg mixture, stir until just combined.
4. Spread into the pan, use a rubber scraper to smooth the top. Then distribute the fruit in an even layer over the top, pressing down just slightly.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes, then unmold from the pan to cool completely. Dust the top with powdered sugar, serve warm or at room temperature. Keep covered on the counter for 2-3 days (if it lasts that long) but tastes best on the day it is made.

Note on fruit: Any kind of berry is delicious in this and can go into the cake raw. When I have done rhubarb in the past I cooked it a little first, but it might be fine to just go in raw if it is cut up small and you don’t mind a little crunch. I’ve never done apple or pear but I imagine they are fine to go in raw. Persimmon needs some prep,(peel and mash two persimmons and mix with 1/2 tsp baking soda, let sit for 5 minute before adding to cake, decrease baking powder to 1 1/2 tsp) but is totally worth it when they are in season. Depending on the kind of fruit you use, orange zest might complement better, I do orange zest when I put cranberries in it, but it’s up to you.

Note on Almond meal: I use the Trader Joe’s “Just Almond Meal” because it is easy and cheap. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s or you have a bunch of almonds you want to get rid of, grind them in the food processor until the biggest pieces are about 1/4 inch and everything else is much smaller. The cake will be a little rougher, but still yummy.

Happy baking!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely! I love baking with berries and almond meal. I don't eat any grains so I'd probably want to sub a much smaller amount of coconut flour for the GF flour, since coconut flour can be so dry, or maybe add more almond flour. But I've found when using fruit or sweet potato or something in baked goods, if you have enough egg, a little flour goes a long way! If I get berry picking this weekend I might have to try a variation on this! =)