Upside-down blueberry and elderflower cake

It was a rainy evening. Somehow British summers always end up a little disappointing in this respect. A couple of weeks of blazing sunshine, followed by constant, unfailing miserable weather that makes it feel more like October than July (I say this like it’s a bad thing, but I’m already looking forward to autumn). I’d been super ill that week, and felt exhausted. I’d eaten like crap and slept badly, and sometimes you just need to clear your mind, bake, and then sit and eat some damn good cake.

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I proceeded to make the following cake three times in the space of about two weeks. This is no bad thing, although I think the first cake tasted the best and the second looked the neatest (I will add here that I didn’t eat all three by myself – however bad things get I think I’ve yet to eat an entire cake to myself).

This is one of those cakes that makes you feel comforted as soon as you start eating. It’s a cake to be eaten with coffee or after a good meal, or sometimes as breakfast, because it does have fruit in it and that’s definitely okay. The recipe originally comes from Scandilicious by Signe Johansen, however I have revised it slightly with each bake. I have yet to be adventurous enough to try it with a different fruit (although the first version I made was blueberry & raspberry), but there’s time for that. I’m pretty sure it’d be great with blackberries, and after all, tis the season etc etc.

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Upside-down blueberry and elderflower cake (from Scandilicious by Signe Johansen)

300g blueberries (or other soft fruit)
50ml elderflower cordial
4 eggs
250g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
125g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
125g butter, melted
125g Greek yoghurt
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3-4, and grease a 23cm springform tin. Wrap the outside of the tin in a layer of foil to create a seal to stop fruit juice leaking out.
  2. Spread the blueberries evenly over the base of the tin, drizzle with the elderflower and leave to macerate.
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla with a mixer/hand whisk for 5-8 mins until pale and fluffy. When you remove the whisk, the trail of mixture it leaves on the surface should remain visible for 2-3 seconds.
  4. Combine the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Mix the melted butter and yoghurt together. Gradually mix the melted butter/yoghurt and dry ingredients into the beaten egg mixture, alternating between wet and dry ingredients until combined.
  5. Pour the batter over the blueberries and bake until the top looks golden and feels springy and firm to the touch. This seems to be anywhere between 40-60 minutes, depending on your oven. Pierce with a skewer to check it’s cooked through.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for as long as humanly possible before releasing the springform and flipping the cake upside down onto a plate (original recipe says leave for 15 minutes – this was not long enough to stop my first cake breaking in half)
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Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

BLUEBERRIES: ROUND #3

I realise this has been a blueberry-heavy time. But then, isn’t it? Summer is here (despite the questionable weather) and blueberries are everywhere. As are peaches. In fact the only thing not summery about this is the cobbler part, which rings more of cold evenings than summery nights. Even so, it’s still delicious, peaches and blueberries are a match made in heaven (who knew?) and the topping is all light and scone-like and just very tasty. And much more photogenic, so this week we actually have pictures!

The next few weeks are going to be a little craaazy. Got a lot going on – having a very full-on birthday weekend next week, and I am also in the midst of training a replacement for me because I’m leaving my job in 3.5 WEEKS. For those of you who don’t know, I’m going off to be a student (for the second time, except this time I’m actually going to university instead of it coming to me). It’s kind of terrifying, I’m moving city for the first time ever, and I just have so much to do it’s mental. Plus it’s only 4 weeks now until I travel to Canada to see my wonderful friends and their darling baby. So if I miss a week, or I post late, I’m sorry. I’ll probably be letting myself down more than anyone else, because I’m amazed I’ve managed to post every Sunday for the last 26 weeks. I’ll try not to break the chain.

Anyway, for your cold summer evenings, have some peach and blueberry cobbler – you won’t be disappointed. Eat with plenty of double cream. I hope all your summers are as amazing as I think mine will be.

Next week: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

 

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler (from Tender, vol.II by Nigel Slater)

150g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp caster sugar

80g butter

142ml soured cream

3 large, ripe peaches

350g blueberries

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

1. Set the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Rub the flour, a pinch of salt, baking powder, sugar and butter together until the mixture resembles soft, fresh breadcrumbs. 

2. Slice the peaches, and put in an ovenproof dish. Toss with the blueberries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. 

3. Mix the soured cream into the crumb mixture until it forms a soft dough. Break off walnut sized pieces, flatten them lightly and lay them on top of the fruit. Dust the rounds of dough with sugar, then bake in the oven for 25 mins until the cobbler is golden and the fruit is bubbling. 

Little Blueberry Pies

More blueberries this week – once again I bought them questionably cheap from the market, and once again found a handful of squishy/mouldy ones. But it’s kind of worth it because as long as you’re using them the same day, they still work out cheaper than buying them anywhere else, even if you do have to throw some away.

These blueberry pies come from Nigel Slater’s Tender vol. II, a book filled with fruit based recipes that make me long to have the kind of garden he has, because he seems to grow pretty much everything you could think of. These have the loveliest shortbread-type pastry that is super crumbly and delicious – you could eat it by itself, never mind the blueberry filling. I tried to roll out the pastry and then realised why the recipe told me not to – long as I had worked to get the pastry into a ball in the first place, it fell apart as soon as I took a rolling pin to it. This has to be cut into pieces and then pressed into tartlet tins to best avoid inevitable crumbliness.

I wasn’t too overwhelmed by these though, to be honest. They’re nice and all, but they haven’t exactly bowled me over. That said, I haven’t tried one warm with cream yet (which I feel is how they’re probably supposed to be eaten) – just cold at lunchtime. So maybe I’ll reserve my total judgement of them.

Also, apologies, these pies aren’t exactly photogenic – photos will be uploaded soon when I take some that don’t make them look disgusting…

Next week – continuing blueberry season with Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

 

Little Blueberry Pies (from Tender, vol. II by Nigel Slater)

140g butter

1 egg yolk

230g plain flour

50g icing sugar

300g blueberries

60g ground almonds

3 tbsp redcurrant jelly

juice of half a lemon

1. Grease four 8cm tartlet tins with removable bases.

2. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, then mix in the icing sugar and egg yolk. Bring the dough together and squeeze into a round, then roll into a short, fat log before putting in the fridge for half an hour to chill.

3. Set the oven at 180C/Gas 4. Toss the fruit together with the redcurrant jelly, almonds and lemon juice. Cut the pastry into four. Flatten each piece on a floured board and use to line the tart tins. Leave surplus pastry overhanging the edges. Pile the filling into the tart cases, then loosely fold over the overhanging pastry (I did not do this, see photo…).

4. Place the tarts onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 mins until the pastry is biscuit coloured and the fruit is bubbling. Dust with a little icing sugar and eat warm or cool.

Blueberry Cake

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A belated Happy Father’s Day to my father, to whom this cake was given (albeit a few days late). I cycled a 25km round trip to give him the cake, which I think kind of makes up for its lateness. On said cycle ride, I was yelled at by a woman who seemed enraged that I had only stopped to give her directions, not to have a conversation with her. Sometimes, people be crazy.

The cake was delicious, dense but moist, and most excitingly it was ring-shaped, because this was the first time I have ever used a bundt tin (many thanks again to Seb who has gifted me many a baking thing – especially as I never would’ve bought a bundt tin myself). I don’t think I realised quite how massive the cake was until I tried to lift it into the oven – despite having a hole in the middle, bundt cakes involve one hell of a lot of ingredients (like, half a dozen eggs). It’s gone to a good home though, and actually, has probably been eaten already.

I bought the cheapest blueberries I’ve ever seen to make the cake – on Cambridge market they were doing 2 punnets for £2.00, and I was like, that’s amazing! So I took them home, and naturally, it was too good to be true, because after leaving them in the fridge for a day, quite a lot of them had gone mouldy and I had to pick through and salvage what I could (miraculously, the amount I saved was exactly 250g, the precise quantity I needed for the cake!)

Earlier this week I made a strawberry cake and used up the rest of the chocolate icing left over from the cupcakes last week. One good thing about that icing is that if you can’t use it all at once, and you come back to it a few days later once it’s all hardened, it melts really easily and returns to its former consistency ready for you to pour too much over the cake you made so that it ends up all over your counter (see here). The strawberry cake was just a basic sponge with about 100g of mashed strawberries added, and it was GREAT. I’m trying to make the most of summer fruit season, so I’ve been consuming lots of strawberries and raspberries and jealously watching as my blueberry plants bear fruit back in my parents’ garden. I did have a joyous half hour or so last week though, picking strawberries in Oli’s parents’ garden, only to then find a rash all over my arms. Hayfever is really NOT my friend this year. All in all though, summer is shaping up to be pretty good. Birthday week soon, and in 6 weeks I will be in Canada! A lot of baking to be done, and a lot to look forward to.

 

Blueberry Cake (from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf)

350g unsalted butter at room temperature

350g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

450g plain flour

2 tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder

280ml sour cream

250g fresh blueberries (plus extra to decorate if you want)

icing sugar, to decorate

~ you can use cream cheese icing to cover the cake, but as I think it’s pretty tasty without, I’m leaving the icing off the recipe here~

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Put the butter and sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.

2. Beat in the vanilla extract, flour and baking powder until well mixed. Add the sour cream and mix well until everything is combined and the mixture is light and fluffy. Gently stir the blueberries in by hand until evenly dispersed.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared ring mould (note – grease the tin LOTS) and smooth over. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 mins (or an hour in my case) or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cake to cool in the mould before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar.

 

Next week: Little Blueberry Pies

Iced Apricot and Blueberry Terrine

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I’ve had quite a crazy week – all sorts of things have been going on, and this is the first chance I’ve really had to sit down and write. In the same way that 9:30 yesterday evening was the first opportunity I had to bake. Incidentally it was well-timed, because the weather has been GLORIOUS today (apart from a brief downpour that happened to coincide with my cycle home), and I went to a BBQ at my lovely friends’ house, and they gave me homemade burgers, and I gave them this. Iced apricot and blueberry terrine.

I’ve been abbreviating and referring to it as ‘ice cream’ to people, but when we came to eat it and tried to scoop it out of the tub, it became very clear that it is not ice cream. It does not scoop, it is designed to be sliced. So sliced it was. I’m not going to lie, it mostly tastes of cream and meringue, but there is nothing wrong with that. The original recipe involved blackcurrants instead of blueberries, but not knowing where the hell to get blackcurrants (I tried both supermarket and actual market, and they don’t seem to be a thing), I compromised with the closest thing possible. And it turned out very well. This is like a test run for me before I make real ice cream for the first time, and I’m feeling pretty confident about being able to do that now.

Iced Apricot and Blueberry Terrine (adapted from Tender Vol.II by Nigel Slater)

200g blueberries (by all means, use blackcurrants if you can find them)

2 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp water

4 apricots

500ml cream

120g meringues (8 meringue nests – you can make your own, but I was lazy and used shop bought)

1. Put the blueberries, sugar and water into a small pan. Bring to the boil, leave to simmer for 5 mins, until the fruit starts to burst, then boil hard for two minutes until the liquid has reduced a little. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.

2. Halve and stone the apricots, and then chop into small pieces. Whip the cream until it is thick but stop short of whipping it so far that it stands in peaks. It should be able to slide slowly from the whisk.

3. Crumble the meringues into small chunks, then fold gently into the whipped cream with the chopped apricots. Pour into a freezer-proof box (roughly 24x12x7cm) lined with cling film. Pour the blueberries on top, then gently swirl them through the mixture. Fold the overhanging cling film over the top and freeze for at least 4 hours. To serve, cut into thick slices with a sharp knife.

 

Next week: Chocolate Chip Cupcakes!