I have been hopeless about writing posts this summer, but I do have an excuse; I am writing a book on berries. I am writing it with Sally Hughes and it will be similar to Quinces – a mixture of cookery, gardening and history. This one will also include foraging, as there are so many delicious berries one can collect on country walks or even in city parks and gardens. The book isn’t published till June 2016 but, in the meantime, here is our recipe for Milk Chocolate Bramble Cake.
This is a gentle chocolate cake, rich, but mild in flavour. You need to use dark chocolate in the cake mixture as the flavour of milk chocolate is lost in cooking. For a more intense chocolaty taste, use dark chocolate for the icing too. It is best made with small, foraged blackberries as the large cultivated ones tend to make the cake soggy in parts. Earlier in the summer raspberries are a delicious alternative.
200 g butter
100 dark chocolate
200 g caster sugar
200 self-raising flour, sifted
175 g blackberries
100 g good quality milk chocolate
140 g butter, softened
140 g icing sugar
2 x 20 cm loose-bottomed cake tins
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4. Grease the tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
To make the cake:
Bring a large pan of water to boil. Break the dark chocolate and put it and the butter into a bowl which will fit inside the pan. Put the bowl into the boiling water, ensuring that the water does not bubble over the rim. Once the butter and chocolate have melted remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Add eggs and sugar to the chocolate mixture and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. This shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.
Reserve a handful of the blackberries for decoration and add the rest to the flour. Stir to coat the berries and then gently fold into the chocolate mixture.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. The top should be nicely risen and a skewer should come out pretty well clean. Remember the berries will make the cake juicy.
Remove from the oven, allow the cakes to cool in the tins until you can handle them, 10 minutes or so, and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing:
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water as before, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Beat the butter and icing sugar until creamy and then mix in the melted chocolate.
Level the top of one cake, if necessary, and spread half the icing onto it. Put the other cake on top and spread the remaining icing evenly over the top. Decorate with the reserved berries.
Amongst other things, we’ve also made (and eaten) Gooseberry and Elderflower Loaf Cake, Raspberry Lemonade, Raspberry Brownies, Heart Attack Pudding, Tartes aux Myrtilles, Cranberry Scones and Strawberry Butter. Perhaps our next book should be on lettuce leaves. Jane.