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Recipe: Make our blackberry, almond and dark chocolate cake

PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:10 15 August 2020

Make our blackberry, almond and dark chocolate cake  Picture; Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Make our blackberry, almond and dark chocolate cake Picture; Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

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If you’ve got a glut of blackberries on your allotment or have been out ‘brambling’ in the countryside this sweet pudding cake is just the thing to use them up.

August, I find, is a bittersweet time of year. On the plus side it is one of the most bountiful, plentiful months. My fridge is overflowing with friends’ surplus allotment courgettes and French beans, and there’ll soon be armfuls of apples and plums from mum and dad’s garden.

But it’s also when I feel the tide change in the seasons. While June and July have all the promise of hazy, long summer evenings, in August, as the nights draw in again, there’s a whisper of autumn in the air. The scent of blackberries ripening on their prickly brambles acts as a reminder that those balmy weeks of picnics and barbecues have a lifespan.

Not that there’s anything wrong with autumn, but I want to cling onto summer a little longer. And the way I do that is by baking and preserving anything in season I can get my greedy hands on.

Strawberries have been churned into ice cream with lemon balm. I made a blackcurrant and liquorice curd with berries from my friend Sarah. And the dreamily endless supply of blackberries from the copse by my house have been plucked, squished and swirled into a blackberry, cherry and red wine jam, and a blackberry rum.

For pudding there’s also been a really delightful cake this week. A tender-crumbed, almond-flavoured sponge, freckled with the maroon berries, which lightly seep their juices, enhanced by a big handful of dark chocolate chunks. Served warm alongside a spoonful of vanilla ice cream or berry sorbet it’s a mouthful of summer in every bite.

If you have an almond allergy swap out the flavouring for vanilla and don’t add the flaked almonds on top. The cake works just as well with stoned cherries or dainty late season wild strawberries if you happen to have them growing in the garden.

Want to be a show off? Crush a spoonful of fresh tarragon with 2tbsp caster sugar and sprinkle over the top as it comes out of the oven. Tarragon and blackberries are brilliant partners in crime. Or crush some fresh berries with a splash of almond liqueur (the kind of stuff you buy at Christmas and forget about) and sugar and spoon liberally over the top.

Backberry, almond and dark chocolate cake

(serves 10-12)

Ingredients

225g margarine (I use Pure Sunflower spread – it makes lovely light cakes)

225g golden caster sugar

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225g plain flour

2tsps baking powder

1.5tsps almond extract or vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1tbsp white wine or cider vinegar

180g fresh blackberries, washed and dried

100g dark chocolate chips/chunks

1 handful flaked almonds (optional)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190C and grease and line a 22cm loose-bottomed round cake tin.

Beat the spread and sugar in a bowl until creamy with an electric whisk for the best results. Add one egg and beat to combine. Beat in a quarter of the flour. Repeat with the remaining eggs and flour.

Whisk in the almond extract and baking powder, then the vinegar. Finally, stir in the chocolate chunks.

Spoon the mix into your prepared tin and smooth over to make it even. Now dust your berries in flour to just coat (this prevents them sinking to the bottom) and spoon over the top, pressing them into the batter. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Place in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes – all ovens are different. My cake was ready at 45 minutes. It should be golden, risen and set in the centre.

This is best served warm as a dessert, but is equally as delicious cold for afternoon tea.


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