Sunday, 23 September 2012
I just love this time of year, especially when you get a beautiful sunny day like today . . . the air is clean and fresh . . . it's somewhat warm, with a faint hint of cripsness . . . a tiny reminder that the cold days are not too far ahead, but for today . . . the sun has decided to come out and play and we enjoy . . .
I love that the nights are cooler, so we can sleep better. I love that crispness in the air . . . I love the huge variety of fresh vegetables and fruits that are now coming into their own. Summer's last hurrah before the big sleep . . . I love that the things we eat are getting a little bit heavier . . . and warming.
Our vegetable garden actually did quite poorly this year. We hardly got anything out of it. The things we grew in containers did ok . . . but the stuff we put in the ground were to all intents and purposes a huge failure . . . what didn't rot the snails and slugs ate.
On the positive side though, our berries did beautifully! We had a huge abundance of them, which I just loved, especially the blueberries. They did very well, as did the raspberries. We bought a few more plants today at the garden centre, two blueberries, two raspberries (A red and a gold this time) and another gooseberry bush. WE love our fruit.
This lovely cake/traybake is a beautiful way to showcase your autumn berries. You can use a variety like I have done here today, or you can use just one or two, whatever you have. Currants are also lovely in this, especially the black ones.
A buttery moist batter, lightly spiced and rich with ground almonds, wraps itself around each little jewel like berry . . . flaked almonds sprinkled across the top get all golden brown and toasted . . . the demerara sugar which you sprinkle on just as it comes out of the oven, gives it a deliciously sweet crunch.
Altogether it makes for a very moreish tray bake I would say . . . very moreish indeed! Perfect with some pouring cream drizzled over top . . . or served warm with ice cream. A dollop of clotted cream perhaps??? Some lightly sweetened mascarpone??? Pick your own poison.
You will want to eat this up within two days . . . not a problem, as you'll probably find yourself going back for a second slice later on after everyone's gone back to bed . . . a la Nigel-la . . . OK . . . so I am a glutton.
As Dorcas would say . . . "Cake . . . it's my only weakness . . ."
*Autumn Berry Tray Bake*
Makes 9 to 12 servings
A delightful traybake cake filled with autumn berry goodness!!
225g of unsalted butter, room temp (1 scant cup or 15 1/2 TBS)
225g golden caster sugar (1 cup plus 2 3/4 TBS fine sugar)
4 large free range eggs
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
150g of self raising flour (1 cup plus 5 1/2 TBS)
75g ground almonds (14 TBS almond meal)
200g of fresh berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, tayberries and blueberries) (about 2 cups)
3 TBS flaked almonds
demerara sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter and line a 9 by 12 inch tray bake tin with baking paper. Butter the paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in the extracts and ground spices. Beat the eggs together and then add them a little at a time, beating them into the creamed mixture until thoroughly amalgamated. (If the mixture begins to curdle, whisk in 1 TBS of your flour) Whisk together the flour and ground almonds. Fold this mixture into the creamed mixture with a large spoon, folding until no streaks of flour are visible. Gently fold in the berries. Spread this mixture carefully into the prepared tin. (If you have used frozen berries the batter will be quite stiff.) Smooth over the top and then sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until well risen and golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Dust lightly with demerara sugar just as you are removing it from the oven.
Allow to cool on a wire rack. Lovely served still warm, cut into squares, dusted with icing sugar along with some pouring cream.