This cake is the berries!

I recently visited my cousin Kris at her mountaintop home in southern New Hampshire. We sat out on her deck, acorns dropping like mini-bombs around us, and talked about family, movies (she and her husband are film producers), and food.

After a bit Kris went inside, and emerged moments later with cups of coffee and a cake. Always on the alert for promising new recipes, I started to pry. “What’s that? Looks good. What’s in it?” I said.

“Oh, it’s those Italian plums on top of cake. Truly, this is about the only dessert I ever make. Why bother with any others, I think, when this is so good?” said Kris.

Further discussion revealed it was a recipe from Marian Burros’ The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook. What’s more, it’s been featured on American Public Media’s radio show, “The Splendid Table,” with host Lynn Rosetto Kasper.  APM’s Web site quotes Kasper as commenting, “Because of reader demand, this recipe has been published in one form or another in the New York Times almost every year since I went to work there in 1981.”

Gee – I guess LOTS of people think this recipe looks good!

Serendipitously, King Arthur Flour sponsored a company outing at a local orchard last weekend. Families gathered on a crisp, impossibly blue-and-gold September morning to enjoy hay rides, cider and fresh doughnuts, and acres and acres of apple trees and raspberry bushes, all heavily laden with fruit. The pickin’s were easy, to say the least – perfect for kids.

img_0046.jpg

Our online commerce director, Halley, stepped onto the apple scale for a group weigh-in with daughters Bella and Daisy.

img_2977.JPG

They picked a TON of apples. Well, enough for pie and a huge crisp, anyway.

img_0059.jpg

Me? I went for the raspberries. My mom and I picked 11 pints.

img_0407.JPG

Berry cake, here I come!

There’s nothing like late-summer berries, but they’re as fragile as they are fleeting. I froze all but 2 pints, scooping out a cup to go on top of this Late Summer Berry Torte, along with a cup of blueberries I’d picked up at another farmstand.

Let’s get started–

img_3075.JPG

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Put 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder in a bowl.

img_3076.JPG

Mix till thoroughly combined, then add 2 large eggs.

img_3079.JPG

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. You can supplement the vanilla with 1/4 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, or Fiori di Sicilia; both add interesting, though slightly different flavor notes.

img_3080.JPG

Add 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

img_3081.JPG

Beat briefly, just to combine.

img_3082.JPG

Spread the batter in a lightly greased 8” x 8” or 9” x 9” square pan; or a 9” or 10” round pan. In the larger pans, the batter will seem quite thin; that’s OK.

img_3083.JPG

The original recipe calls for 24 halves pitted Italian prune plums. Kris says she uses 2 cups of whatever fruit she has on hand. I chose 1 cup each raspberries (red, and golden); and 1 cup blueberries.

img_3086.JPG

Sprinkle the berries (or spread the fruit) evenly atop the batter.

img_3087.JPG

Like this. Isn’t that pretty?

img_3088.JPG

Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

img_3089.JPG

It looks like you’re using a lot, but don’t worry; it’s all good.

img_3091.JPG

Put the cake in the 350°F oven, and bake it for about 35 minutes.

img_3115.JPG

A cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean, and the parts of the cake showing between the berries will be golden brown.

img_3114.JPG

Like this.

Serve with whipped cream, if desired.  Sounds pretty desirable to me, so let’s whip up some cream, using a trick I just learned:

img_3112.JPG

Yup, Marshmallow Fluff, long-time star of the Fluffernutter Sandwich.

img_3106.JPG

Whip 1 cup heavy cream till it holds peaks. This cream actually got away from me; it’s too stiff. Absolutely edible, it just doesn’t look smooth and pretty.

img_3109.JPG

Add 1/2 cup Fluff, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

img_3110.JPG

Mix till thoroughly combined. The Fluff helps stabilize the whipped cream, meaning you can whip it up ahead, then refrigerate till it’s time to serve. It also adds just the right amount of sweetening, yielding a whipped cream where cream is the hero, not sugar.

img_3124.JPG

And here’s the result of our berry-picking labors. How sweet (and fresh) it is!

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Late Summer Berry Torte.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Christine Nelson

    Would love to make this cake, but am out of fresh fruit…was wondering if I could sub re hydrated blueberry infused cranberries. I bake a lot of breads for friends and neighbors with these cranberries, and would like to give this cake as a thank you for supporting me with all of their orders.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Go for it, Christine! We think that’ll work just fine and make a wonderful thank you gift. Annabelle@KAF

  2. Marilyn

    Way too sweet for me, as I used almost all blueberries. The berry mixture needs more tart berries, such as the raspberry mix used in the article, or cut back on the sugar. The recipe doesn’t say whether the butter is salted or not; I assumed salted, and added an additional ¼ tsp salt, since I always bake with unsalted butter. The cake part is very good and I’ll try it again, but the sugar topping needs adjustment for sweeter fruit.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Marilyn, thanks for your helpful comments on this recipe. In our recipes we normally assume unsalted butter, unless otherwise specified, but I’m sure an extra 1/4 teaspoon of salt didn’t hurt anything. Barb@KAF

  3. Francine aka Gia

    I prepared this recipe using blueberries and plan to prepare it again for guests. All I can say is … YUM!!!

    Reply
  4. sharon

    I made this torte with splenda plus I used apples and cranberries with walnuts and I doubled the recipe. I also made it with peaches and blueberries plus the splenda. It’s a five star dough. I have since made it with many other fruits and nuts. It’s great for people with diabetes like me. I love KING ARTHUR recipes. enjoy! shana

    Reply
  5. glpruett

    I have a quick question on the whipping cream/marshmallow fluff mixture. After the cream is whipped to hold peaks, and you add the marshmallow fluff and vanilla, do you continue to use the mixer whisk to incorporate the fluff or do you do it with a spatula or bowl scraper? In the picture, you show a bowl scraper, but it doesn’t seem like it would be possible to get it mixed well enough that way. Thanks!
    Folding in the fluff and vanilla is best. Otherwise, the whites would become over beaten. Elisabeth

    Reply
  6. Geri

    The cake looks and sounds yummy, however looks can be deciving. How can we actually comment without baking and tasting this.
    I tried one of the recipies that looked amazing, yet it was terrible.
    I have no comment at this time, but I will try to bake this one

    When/if you have a bad experience with one of our recipes, I hope you call our baker’s hotline – 802-649-3717. They’re SO good at walking you through the recipe and finding out what might have gone wrong… Best of luck on this one. PJH

    Reply

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *