Blackberry & Lemon Cake

 

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Is that time of the year again, when the blackberry bushes are in full bloom, and we pick a handful every time we step out the house, just like we do every season.
I choose to bake a plain sponge cake and fill it with blackberry cream this time. The lemons came into the picture in form of lemon syrup which I drizzled generously on top of each cake layer, and also used in the frosting. Funny how a blackberry cake turned out to be pink, but there’s no secret to it, the magic was to simmer/boil the fresh blackberries with lemon juice for a few minutes and they turned from black to beautiful red.
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When I finished this cake and my son first tasted it, he pulled all sorts of faces to me, then pushing his plate away he said “Mom, this is the most disgusting cake I ever had!” Pff…..that bold honesty put me off a little bit, and when tasting it myself I almost fell for it, but after leaving an almost untouched, full cake in the fridge over the night (which never happened before in this kitchen), the next morning our disappointment turned into amazement and now I can say that this is the kind of cake which is best to leave to rest and chill in the fridge for at least 6-8 hours before eating (must be the cream cheese!). Surprisingly the next morning this cake was wonderful, the flavours of the lemon and sweet blackberry combined and even my son’s face lit up with happiness and he finally had a slice of cake that he could enjoy.
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Ingredients
Sponge cake:
-6 eggs at room temperature, separated
-6 Tbsp granulated sugar
-6 Tbsp all purpose flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-pinch of salt
Lemon syrup:
-3/4 cup water
-1 Tbsp granulated sugar
-4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1-2 smaller lemons)
Blackberry cream:
-3 cups powdered sugar
-375 g butter at room temperature
-1 pack Mascarpone cream cheese
-300 g fresh blackberries (but take away 1 cup to place them between the cake layers)
-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
-1/2 tsp salt
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Method:
Preheat the oven. Line the bottoms of two 8″ cake pans with baking paper, no need to grease.
In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the sugar until you get a firm, shiny peak. Now gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time and the vanilla extract.
Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mix to the egg cream, but very gently and using only a large spoon until everything is combined. Evenly divide the batter into the cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the pans by sliding a thin spatula or knife around the edges then transfer to a wire rack, remove baking paper from the bottom. Let it cool completely, then cut both  cakes in two equal layers.
Blackberry cream:
Put 1 cup of blackberries with 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice in a small saucepan. Simmer for a few minutes until they go red and soft. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing the blackberries through with a wooden spoon until only seeds are left in the strainer. Discard seeds, and put the gained puree aside to cool down completely. There should be about 5 Tbsp puree.
In a bowl of the electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, start whipping the butter slowly with the powder sugar and salt (this is the part I hate because I just can’t do it without my kitchen ending up all dusty….). Increase speed to high and beat until white and fluffy.
Add the cream cheese, a Tbsp at a time and mix until well combined, then whipping 2-3 more minutes until fluffy again, scrapping down the bowl as needed.
Drizzle in the cooled blackberry syrup 1 Tbsp at a time then beat another minute. If you think it’s getting too soft or started to curl, then add more powder sugar and 1 Tbsp of butter.
Make the lemon syrup by combining the lemon juice with the sugar and water in a saucepan on the stove. When it gets hot and started to simmer, take it off and start drizzling the syrup directly on the cake layers. Let it cool for a few minutes before filling your cake with the cream.
After each addition of blackberry cream, put a few blackberries before stacking with another layer of cake. Finish off with generous amount of ream to the sides and lighter layer of ream on the top. I made few rosettes (which by the way are far from perfect, but just can’t seem to master this technique….. 🙂 )
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Nostalgia – Time travelling to the past

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I got a few vintage crochet lace mats and doilies from my mother which she got from my grandmother, which she got from my great grandmother, who made them…..yeah, we’re talking about old stuff here, very old! And beautiful 🙂

 

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When I saw them, I knew I have to use them as a background for a batch of shabby chick cupcakes. I’m not all into this vintage design, but sometimes it feels good and relaxing to go through old black & white family photos, remembering our dear relatives who were around when we were kids, and those who we never met but we were told countless stories about.

 

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Here is my great grandmother, standing in a white dress on the right of the framed photo. She died before I was born at the age of 82. She was 16 when she posed for this photograph….I never knew her, but I know she was the mother of my dear grandfather, and I LOVED her, and I treasure her photograph, which is in fact my absolute favourite of all the old family photos we have. The photo was taken in 1906, and every time I look at it, makes me wonder about that particular day….what was she thinking, how did she spent the rest of her day, how was she feeling, did she ever imagined that one day her photo will end up in her great granddaughter’s wall who she will never meet, but will think the world of her nonetheless….

 

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No recipe here today guys. I only baked these for the sake of remembering and reflecting on the old times.

Very therapeutic 🙂

 

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Jam and Walnut Rolls

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Today I bring you another desert, which was a summer favourite in our family, specially amongst my kids. It has lots of nuts and jam and lemon zest. Ah, such a lovely combination of flavours, and also smells wonderful! I have to bake this weekly now, my kids are hooked up and addicted to this 🙂

 

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I usually buy ready rolled puff pastry sheets for this. One package (320 g) yells 12 little rolls, but in our kitchen this is gone in less than 5 minutes, so I make two usually, because…you know, I want to eat, too 🙂  You can bake it loose on a baking sheet or put the rolls in the muffin pan as I did here, but usually I just cut up the rolls and place them loose on the baking sheet. Either way is fine.
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Ingredients:
-1 pack Puff Pastry sheet
-200 g apricot jam (you can make this with any other jam, but we like it best with apricot)
-100 g ground walnuts
-2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
-zest of 1 lemon
Method:
Preheat your oven to 180 C.
Mix the sugar with the walnuts and lemon zest.
Open the puff sheet and spread the jam evenly. The more, the better. Sprinkle the walnut mixture evenly on top. Again, the more the better 🙂
Carefully start to roll up as tight as possible, then cut 12 even rolls with a sharp knife.
Arrange them in the muffin pan or baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.
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Even thou you will want to eat them straight away (because you will), let it cool down because the jam can be really, really hot and will burn you. Trust me, I’ve been there, I’ve done that…
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Light Summer Cupcakes with Elderflowers

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Although it is officially Autumn already, I bring you these light and fluffy elderflower cupcakes which is a classic representation of the Summer. But, as you might notice, I way away for pretty much the whole season. My last post was sometime at the beginning of July. Not only that I haven’t posted anything during these weeks, but I haven’t baked anything either. Too much going on, and we were away for our annual holidays abroad, plus we were not really craving sweet cakes. That’s one good thing about the summer amongst the endless other things 😉 Oh, how I wish it would be always summer!

 

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Back to the table, I present you these easy, light, little cakes. As innocent as they look, they have a strong character when you taste them. I put lots of fresh elderflowers in the batter, I picked them myself from the bushes in front of the house. And also used elderflower cordial to flavor the frosting cream. They are a must try for those who like the taste of elderflowers.

 

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I used my basic vanilla recipe and threw in lots of small flowers. I didn’t wash the flowers to keep all the flavors, but I picked from a place where there is no road traffic, so they were relatively clean, then I just cut of the little flowers from the stem.

 

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Ingredients:

-125 g butter, softened at room temperature
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1+1/3 cup flour
-1/3 cup milk
-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-pinch of salt
-2 teaspoon baking powder
elderflowers (1/2 – 1 cup)
Frosting:
-300 ml double cream
-2-3 Tbsp elderflower cordial
Method:
Preheat the oven. Line your cupcake pan with the cases.
In a bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed to cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the vanilla, flour and milk, and beat with the electric mixer until combined, but be careful DO NOT OVER-MIX, because it will become dry and sort of a bread (take Laura Vitale’s word for that🙂)
Sprinkle in the flowers and stir until it’s all incorporated.
Use an ice cream scoop -if you have, and divide the mixture evenly in your cupcake cases, but fill them only 3/4.
Bake them for around 20 minutes, half way through you can turn your tray in the oven, but NEVER open the oven in the first 10 minutes of baking, this is important!
Take them out from the oven, but leave the cupcakes in the pan for about 5 minutes before you transfer them on a wire rack.
After they are cold, whip the double cream adding gradually the preferred amount of cordial.

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