Monday, July 20, 2009

Eat Your Fruit: Blackberry Chocolate Cake

Basically, blackberries are my favorite fruit.  If anyone else wants to offer up a comparison fruit that matches its tart-sweet sexiness (I mean!  Look at those curves!), I'm down for seeing if it stacks up.  But I've yet to find anything that thrills me the way blackberries do (strawberries?  too obvious.  apples?  too much.  watermelons?  too unwieldy).

Consequently, I try to sneak them into whatever I can.  Like, uh, beloved family recipes.  In all seriousness, though, blackberries and chocolate have a natural affinity for one another.  I've also made blackberry brownies on many an occasion before, and the fruit lightens and moistens any kind of cake-like dessert.

This was also my first foray into baking with my new gas oven, and I was pretty happy with the results.  It's an old, old range and solidly built to hold heat and hold it well.  You have to light it with a match, though, which scared me at first, but I'm pleased to say I still have all my eyelashes and am fast becoming a gas-cooking convert.

Diana's Great-Grandmother's Chocolate Cake with Untempered Handfuls of Blackberries

For the cake:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (I used Van Cheeseman's duck eggs)
3/4 cups cocoa (Special Dark is nice)
1 3/4 cups unsifted flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup milk
a handful of blackberries (Jones Orchard)

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectionary sugar
1 tsp vanilla
another handful of blackberries

Grease and flour two nine-inch cake pans and set aside.

Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla til fluffy.  DON'T START EATING IT YET.  I know.  This is hard for me, too.  Keep thinking cake.  Cake.  Cake.

Blend in the eggs.  Admire how nice and thick duck yolks make the batter!

Combine dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, until well blended.

Toss in the blackberries and blend them up, too.  I suppose you could press them through a fine-mesh strainer first to de-seed them, but I don't mind a little crunch.  

Pour into the floured cake pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  They're done when: 1) A knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and 2) The cake pulls away from the side of the pan.

While that is cooking away, blend up your frosting ingredients.  It makes just enough to hold the two layers together plus a little for decoration on top.  Most people don't eat frosting anyway, so I didn't bother trying to cover the entire two-layer cake.

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and remove from pans to frost.

We had this for a 4th of July dinner party.  Not very patriotic (my great-grandmother was, err, French-English), but tasty!