Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Coobook Corner Cake

One of the things about not feeling well, as long as you avoid the dreaded stomach flu, is that you have lots of time to read through cookbooks. There are old favorites that I haven't look at for a long time that ended up on the bedside table. Time for Cookbook Corner.

I even found a recipe that was simple enough for the Labor Day weekend and took advantage of some of the ripe blackberries on the monster berry patch that has overtaken the chicken coop. We've never had chickens...Sweetie had enough of that in the Peace Corps according to him...but there was one already built when we moved in. The kids used to use it as a sort of playhouse once I cleaned it out, but for years it has resembled Sleeping Beauty's castle...covered with briars. That means lots of blackberries, but most are out of reach.

The recipe started out as Peach Cake in the Silver Palate Cookbook written by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins in 1979. The Silver Palate was a specialty food store in New York. The idea behind it was to have "simple food prepared in a special way" for working women, bachelors, families to stop in and pick up for a meal, a picnic, or as part of their own feast or entertaining. Since it's been forever since I was in New York, it might still be there...who knows?...but the book is still full of interesting recipes.

This is a single layer simple cake covered with fresh fruit and a sugary, buttery, spiced nut topping and baked in a cast iron skillet. I changed peaches to blackberries and jazzed the topping up a bit. It is good the same day and was even better for breakfast the next day. I served it as is, with just a few more blackberries on the side, but I'm sure it would benefit from a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, too. If you prefer to make it with peaches (or nectarines or plums) the original recipe calls for 3 ripe peaches, peeled and slice.

Simple Cake with Blackberries

4 tablespoons sweet butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons alt
1/4 cup milk
1 pint fresh blackberries, washed, drained and picked over

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter well a heavy 9-inch skillet that can go in the oven.
Cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg. Scrape beater and bowl.
Sift dry ingredients together. Beat half into creamed mixture, beat in half of the milk, Repeat, beating well.
Pour batter into prepared skillet. Arrange blackberries on top of batter...a pint pretty much covers the top.

Bake for 25 minutes. While cake bakes, prepare the topping.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
4 tablespoons sweet butter

Cut ingredients for topping together in a small bowl with a fork.

Here is how the cake looks after it has baked 25 minutes but before the topping goes on:

After cake has baked for 25 minutes, open oven and quickly crumble topping over blackberries.
Close oven and bake for another 8 minutes, or until cake is firm and has pulled away from edges of the skillet.

Doesn't that look yummy!?
Serve warm or cooled. More fruit, ice cream, and/or whipped cream can accompany slices of this cake.


  1. Ah but I do have the stomach flu.
    But I can still admire you cake even though the desire to eat it is not high.

  2. Elle, I would love a slice of this cake right now. And then I would ask you for another slice, of course. Not very polite of me, I know. :)

    Isn't it wonderful to go to cookbooks we never use and find something that inspires you?

  3. Ooh, that looks good! One thing I really miss is my cast iron skillet; we had weight requirements in packing, so I had to leave it behind -- it's pretty large, but was so great to make cornbread and other goodies.

    I'm jealous of your blueberries, but snickering at the thought of your sweetie having to chase them down in the Peace Corps. I'm sure he was very good at it... Hee!

    Hope you're feeling better soon.

  4. Oh divine! Every peach I've tried this year has been bad. Give me blackberry please.
    The chicken coup sounds great as a castle of blackberries!

  5. Anonymous12:15 PM

    Elle, What a perfect way to use blackberries! I'm jealous of your cast iron skillet too.

  6. Oh, Peabody, do get well soon! Hate stomach flu! Hope this finds you feeling better.

    Patricia, we both made cake with fruit topping...with 'found' recipes...yours looks wonderful!

    Tadmack, cast iron skillets really are workhorses...should I send you one if I find a good one at a yard sale? Sweeties doesn't mind the berries, but didn't enjoy raising chickens. Heehee.Thanks for the good wishes.
    Feeling find now...cold is gone!!

    Tanna, that is terrible about the peaches, but some years they just are not any good. Blackberries this year are not as sweet, either...probably due to our drought. Chiken coop castle...such a mental picture that is :)

    Breadchick, do get a cast iron skillet if you can...and season it properly. It will be your friend for many, many years if taken care of. Bakes the best cornbread, too.

  7. So sorry you haven't been feeling well. I don't know where you even got the energy to make this AND write about it. What a trooper.

  8. This look delicious. Wish I had a skillet now

  9. Giz, Fortunately, i started feeling better by Monday afternoon and was back to work as usual. Also, the cake is pretty simple and foolproof...a good one.

    Katie, You could probably also bake this in a regualar cake pan...a nine inch one. The outer crust would not be the same, but the cake would still be tasty.