Sunday, 25 March 2007

Creamy Berry Shortcake

Lately I've been cooking things in a futile attempt to will spring into existence. I found a recipe for this shortcake, adapted from a recipe in a baking supplement that came with a recent issue of BBC Good Food magazine, my favourite mag in this genre. The photo was so gorgeous and rich and fruity looking that I was sure it would calm the nasty winds plaguing Oxford. I was wrong about that, but the cake did not disappoint on any other front. Thanks to the various layers of shortbread dough! clotted cream! berries! chocolate! it tastes really interesting in the best possible meaning of the word.

I stuck pretty close to the Good Food recipe, with three major changes. First, I forgot to put sugar in the dough (ha!) but actually preferred it that way--the berries are so sweet, it was nice not too have too much sugar in other parts of the cake or else it might be sickly. Second, I brushed the bottom layer of cake with some melted dark chocolate, just because I was, well, in the mood for chocolate. The bitterness of the chocolate added a fantastic tangyness to the cake and I actually can't imagine what it would taste like without it. So while I suppose you could make the cake without my addition of a chocolate layer, I don't recommend--everyone who had a piece agreed that it was key to what made the cake awesome. My last change was that I used a frozen fruit mix of blackberries, dark cherries, black currants, and red grapes, instead of just blackberries which is what the recipe called for. This is mostly because I don't tend to buy fresh berries out of season, and this was the closest frozen mix I could find. But in any case, it was lovely.

On to the recipe. I think it will be even tastier once fresh berries are in season!

The Recipe:

Creamy Berry Shortcake (adapted from the BBC Good Food recipe)

For the cake:
300g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
140g butter, chilled and cut into teeny tiny pieces
75mL buttermilk
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:
500g blackberries and other forest-fruits
3 tbsp caster sugar
200g clotted cream
75g chocolate (dark! 70% cocoa at least!), melted

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

To make the dough, combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter, and work it into the flower until it's an even, crumbly, mixture. Make a well in the middle of it, and then add the buttermilk and egg, and work it until it becomes a soft, sticky, dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface very briefly and mould it into a nice big round. Back it for 30 minutes or so until it's all golden and risen. Cool, then slice in half to create two layers.

Put your fruit into a big bowl and mash them slightly, then mix in the sugar.

To assemble the cake: First, brush the bottom cake layer with your melted chocolate so that it's thoroughly covered, but not too thick. Cover that with a layer of your clotted cream (if you're outside the UK and can't find clotted cream, I suppose whipped cream could be an ok subsitute? It sadly doesn't have the awesome dense body that clotted cream has). Cover the cream with your berries, and top it off with the second layer of cake. Voila! Gigantic cake sandwich!

What is healthy about this recipe: Fruit?

What is seasonal in this recipe: Not much--but this is a recipe to keep in mind for summer when the berries are a-plenty.

What I learned from this recipe:
This was my first ever layered cake! I have always been fearful of the layer cake as slicing through a cake seems perilous, but it turns out that no! Slicing is easy!

What I will change next time: I don't think too many improvements are necessary, but it'd be worth experimenting with different fruit and berries.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I can verify that this cake was exceedingly good!