When the sun seems to run the sky faster and faster with every day nearer the autumn, moments spent in its company feel more precious and valuable.
Take picking of the berries in the woods, valleys or parks – that definitely could be listed in the group of such activities. We did just that.
The Little Person was not extremely keen on the picking itself, he was just happy being out, in fresh air under the shower of warm sunbeams, and also, he found fun and pleasure in eating the freshly picked berries – by someone else (smile), and then, later on, enjoyed the cake we made with them, as well as the jam – which, unlike last year, happened to be a success for me. If not for our lovely neighbour’s kindly presented jar of home – made jam, we wouldn’t have even tried, neither got any idea of making some.
This year, however, the last summer sun smiled widely and joyfully at us.
I’ll share with you some pretty images of the above mentioned cake, plus the recipe, if you like.
It is simple, and due to the fact, the fruit that tops it is fresh, it is also full of goodness preserved in it – and with blackberries in particular, it’s a lot of vitamin C. No need to mention – but still good to know they’re also low in calories and are a good source of fibre, antioxidants, other vitamins and minerals, too.
I got inspired by a recipe for excellent fruit sponge & jelly slices made by my Mum, our usual summer treat. I amended it, of course, because I used different kind of fruit. Where she usually used apricots or peaches, I tried blackberries. And I think it could work very well with strawberries or raspberries, too.
When washing the berries, try to do so in a water filled bowl, rather than under running water – as they are quite soft and fragile and might get squashed under the stream. Handle them gently.
For the jelly topping, my Mum uses a cornflour kind of powder, which we call “Zlaty Klas” in Slovakia, and which creates the perfect texture and golden colour to go with apricots or peaches indeed, but I needed to find my own way here, in the UK, for my blackberries, and, for the lack of that specific powder. So I used a twin pack of Red Quick Jel (70g), and a good equal measure of cornflour mixed with custard powder. It served me well and the consistency was just fine as you can see in the pictures. To make it, follow instructions on the particular jelly powder you’re using. As liquid, I used apple juice, and added sugar as recommended by the instructions – only that I used a little less, knowing the sponge will contain sugar as well. It really was “quick”, and got firm in even less time than I had expected.
For the sponge I used:
4 eggs (separate whites and yellows), 200g sugar (caster), 120g butter (unsalted), 250g flour (plain), 1 tbsp vanilla sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 150 ml milk.
Preheat oven to 200 ºC . Use a non-stick springform cake tin. Line it with baking paper on the bottom, which will help you a lot when handling the ready cake – remember not to open its side while or after the sponge cools down, you will need to pour the jelly onto it while still in the tin, open it only after the jelly is firm and cold!
To make the sponge, mix the yellows of the eggs together with sugar and butter. Add flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar. Mix till you get a smooth creamy texture with no lumps. Set aside.
Whisk the egg whites till firm and stiff, and add them into the yellow mixture. Stir them in gently. The egg whites will help the sponge rise nicely.
Bake in preheated oven till golden brown all over the top, or, until a wooden stick comes out clear after inserted into the middle of the sponge (I use toothpicks for this).
Serve only after the jelly is well firm and cool, may be the same or next day.
The sponge was lovely moist and the fruit topping made the whole dessert feel quite light.
Naturally, you don’t need to wait with this one till the end of the summer – use your imagination and creativity, try some other sort of fruits, and adjust the jelly topping accordingly.
This cake will surely make you happy multiple times – while picking the berries, while making it, while eating it and then, when remembering the sunshine – that got transformed in the shape of the forest fruit right there, on your plate. Enjoy!