Monday, 23 March 2009
My grandfather is a first generation American son of two very tough Eastern European migrants who would thriftily harvest the wild fruits and berries of Pennsylvania.
I remember my grandfather telling me stories of his youth spent picking berries in the field opposite his home.
It all sounded so romantic until he smiled and said “I hated picking those blackberries. The darn thorns would stick into my fingers and I’d go home all cut up. Since there were no girls in the family and I was the eldest of my mother’s children, I was stuck picking berries with all the other town’s women when my brothers were off having a good time.”
I still can’t help imagining my grandfather returning with buckets of blackberries and his mother, Anna, turning these into jam, pies and cakes for her brood of six boys. Seems so quaint but I suppose the reality was never as charming.
It’s also sad to think that after Uncle Andy died a month ago, my grandfather and his youngest brother, Uncle Ed, are all that is left of that large, vibrant family. It made me realise that we’re about to lose that generation and with them all the stories that they hold.
While introducing this recipe to you, I want to emphasis that it’s not outrageous to eat cake for breakfast!
What do you think a muffin is? Oh yes, we pretend cakes and muffins are quite separate but we know in our heart of hearts they are really just the same thing dressed up in different outfits.
And this cake is just like a muffin, only baked in a flat tin rather than cupcake tins.
The moist interior is alive with warm spices and luscious blackberries while the top is crunchy with toasted oatmeal and macadamia nuts.
The original recipe calls for cashews, and I just adored the results of macadamias, but I suppose you could just use whichever nuts are cheapest or on hand. Walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds would work just as well.
Blackberry & Oatmeal Breakfast Cake
Recipe by Food Blogga. Serves 6-8.
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup fresh blackberries (cut in half if very large)
¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts
3 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, for topping
3 tablespoon rolled oats, for topping
1. Place rack in centre of oven and preheat to 180’C.
2. Grease an 8 inch square pan.
3. In a medium bowl, sift the flours.
4. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
5. In a separate large bowl, beat the sugars and eggs at medium speed until light.
6. Beat in the vanilla, buttermilk and oil.
7. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, including the oats.
8. Beat until just incorporated and the flour is combined.
9. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blackberries and cashews until well blended.
10. Pour the batter into the pan and gently shake it to even it out.
11. Sprinkle the chopped cashews and oats evenly over the top of the cake and lightly coat with cooking spray.
12. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted deep into the centre comes out clean.
13. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes.
14. Unmold the cake and place on a rack and allow to set for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with double cream.
Blackberries are part of the bramble family, meaning that they are the thorny members of the genus Rubus in the rose family Rosaceae.
There are several hundred species of blackberries, all native to temperate climes and seemingly the Northern Hemisphere. In Australia, introduced blackberries have become an extremely invasive weed and I have seen many gardeners hastily uproot bushes when they spot them sprouting in their gardens
Interestingly, an Iron Age body found preserved in a bog in Denmark (Haraldskær Woman) showed evidence that the woman had been eating blackberries 2,500 years ago so scientists believe humans have been eating blackberries for quite some time. I guess it goes without saying that when you find a good thing, you stick with it.
Blackberries yield high levels of nectar, allowing bees to make a fruity honey.
According to Wikipedia, blackberries are “high in dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid and manganese” as well as antioxidants.
Their root is sometimes used for dysentery and the leaves make blackberry tea for treating diarrhoea and sore throats.
This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Anna from Anna’s Cool Finds (that gal’s got an awesome name!).
Be sure to check out her recap, but also remember to take part in the Earth Hour Food Blogging Event ending next weekend and hosted by moi!
References & Photo: