Gourmandistan

Wild blackberry curd and buttercream make a lovely wedding (cake)

Wild blackberry cakeThe wedding that eventually led to Gourmandistan happened many years ago, and it has been quite a while since we’ve attended anyone else’s. However, a combination of Michelle’s imagination and Steve’s perspiration recently led to one of the best wedding cakes either of us has ever eaten—and we didn’t have to get dressed up to do it.

Wild blackberries

This year’s wild blackberry harvest was not that wonderful. February’s ice and snow smashed many canes flat; the oddly cool temperatures and torrential rains that followed didn’t help. Nevertheless, Steve zipped on his bee suit and made his way through the woods on more than a few days, often returning with less than a cup of berries. His persistence paid off, for not only was there enough for a few jars of Steve’s favorite jam, but also for Michelle to experiment with blackberry curd and blackberry buttercream, which eventually led to this rather delicious “wedding cake.”

Wild blackberry buttercream

The blackberry curd came first, as Michelle was inspired when leafing through Chez Panisse Desserts. Then came the question of what to do with the stuff. While biscuits and muffins were discussed, the idea of a layer cake quickly dominated our conversations, even though Michelle rarely makes them. We debated dark versus white, what sort of icing would work best, and other topics best left to the food-obsessed. The final decision was that white cake would allow the blackberry flavor to stand out, but some chocolate was necessary for depth and richness. (Besides, Steve loves blackberries with chocolate.) Patching an idea together from several sources, Michelle set about to do right by the blackberries. The result was really lovely.  Blackberry buttercream and blackberry curd brought the berries’ sweet and tart flavor forward in complementary textures, assisted by the light yet firm crumb of the cake. A layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache added just the right note of dark richness, and the cake has kept its freshness and flavor over more than a week in the refrigerator.

Wild blackberry cake

Michelle’s mother has asked us to freeze the last chunk of cake for her. We didn’t do that with the cake from our wedding, but we will with this one. We won’t save it for our 50th anniversary, however. We’ll simply save it for the next Turner family visit—and we won’t even expect any wedding gifts.

WHITE CAKE WITH WILD BLACKBERRY CURD, BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE GANACHE AND WILD BLACKBERRY BUTTERCREAM

  • Servings: one 9-inch layer cake
  • Print

(Cake adapted from Epicurious.com/curd adapted from Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts/ganache adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets/buttercream adapted from Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey’s Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)

WILD BLACKBERRY CURD

  • 4 c. wild blackberries
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 TB unsalted butter
  • 3 TB sugar
  • 2 TB lemon juice

Purée the blackberries in a food processor. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve, pushing with a spoon to remove all juice. You should have about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cup juice.

Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a bowl.

Place berry juice in a saucepan. Add butter and heat, stirring, until butter is melted. Add sugar and lemon juice.

Slowly add a half cup or so of the hot berry juice into the egg mixture, whisking. Then add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 160-170° F.

Strain curd through a fine-meshed sieve, pushing through with a spoon. It may break a bit, but can be whisked back together. Cover and chill. Will keep for a week or so in the refrigerator.

WHITE CAKE

This cake recipe, which is duplicated all over the Internet, makes a lovely white cake. We cut one of the two layers in half, to make a not-exactly-equal three-layer cake.

GANACHE

  • 6 TB heavy cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 TB butter

Place 3 tablespoons of cream in a small bowl and refrigerate.

Place chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or in a double boiler). Warm until it is partially melted. Stir and remove from heat.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons of cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and then gently whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the butter and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.

Whip the chilled cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold into the chocolate mixture. Chill. Stir every few minutes until it is spreadable.

WILD BLACKBERRY BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 c. wild blackberries
  • A few TB of milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) very soft unsalted butter
  • 6-7 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Place blackberries in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat, mashing with a potato masher or a wooden spoon to extract as many juices as possible. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve, pushing with a spoon to remove all juice. You should have about 1/3 cup of juice. Chill in refrigerator.

Add enough milk to the chilled blackberry juice to make 1/2 cup of liquid. Add vanilla.

Place butter, 4 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar and liquid in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until smooth. Add additional sugar, one cup at a time, until thick, smooth and spreadable. (It usually takes about 6 cups.)

ASSEMBLY:

The blackberry curd can be made well ahead of time and refrigerated.

Bake cake and let totally cool. Cut one of the cake layers in half using a serrated knife.

Make ganache and buttercream.

Place one of the thinner layers on a cake plate. Cover with curd. Top with the uncut layer of cake. Cover with ganache. Top with the remaining thin cake layer. Ice top and sides with buttercream.

Store finished cake in refrigerator, but bring slices to room temperature before serving.

Advertisements

38 comments

  1. Martha Darnall

    Looks beautiful and sounds delicious. I didn’t find many blackberries this summer either. Too much rain I think. Too much rain also led to a lot of rotten tomatoes!

    • Thanks! I’m just glad Steve was able to find a few. As a farmer friend of ours said recently: “In a dry year, you go hungry. In a wet year, you starve.”

  2. Yummy! I adore wild blackberries and, of course, their less snazzy cousin, the wineberry. On my recent trip to Virginia I made a pavlova stuffed to the brim with both, picked from the roadside near a friend’s house!

    • Annabel, you’ve sent me to Google and now I’m totally confused! I can’t tell the difference between wild blackberries that we have and wineberries. And then there’s the issue of “dewberries.” That’s what my dad always called the biggest of the wild blackberries, the ones that often ripened first on the same cane. And yet, according to Wikipedia, that’s a whole other thing entirely. Regardless, they’re all wonderful, aren’t they? Especially in a pavlova!

      • Sorry for the slow response, Michelle. I’ve been away. Wineberries are bright red, almost like baby raspberries. They are sweet and juicy, and make excellent jam/jelly. Blackberries were more special, at least to me, because they were rarer where I lived in Virginia. I don’t anything about ‘dewberries’. Sorry!

  3. I also make layer cakes quite rarely (next to never), and your way of inspirational eclecticism (is that an English word?) is just my kind of cooking and baking. I once baked my own wedding cake, and if I had to do it again, this would be my recipe. It´s just wonderful. Love the photos: that perfect cake is even prettier the gorgeous plate and fork!

    • You. Baked. Your. Own. Wedding. Cake???? Consider me impressed! Yes, layer cakes are terribly scary, which is why I seldom make them. So many, many places along the way that things can go wrong. In fact, I made (and fed to the chickens) a whole other white cake from another recipe before I made this one. I was just so determined that I was NOT going to ruin the tiny little blackberry harvest that Steve worked so hard for this year.

      Thanks about the stuff. For the life of me, I can’t remember where that plate came from. I think I bought it decades ago. It might at one time have hung on the wall. The fork is from the silver my godmother started giving me when I was a child. Of course, it seldom gets used now. Thank goodness for blogging! At least it gives me an excuse to get it out now and then.

      • Just for the record: The wedding cake was a fun little thing, nothing like the perfect patissier masterpieces you can buy . I guess it was my idea to make one myself 😉 It was like bringing something your own party. Nothing impressive at all from the technical aspect, but well, it came from the heart 😉
        Have a great week, Michelle!

  4. this is incredible. I love blackberries, but I rarely ever leave over enough to bake with! especially since they aren’t cheap, I prefer to eat then fresh.
    oddly enough, in May, we found large boxes of blackberries on sale a few weeks in a row, so I did bake with them a bit. i made a blackberry lemon butter cake, blackberry apricot ice cream, and a blackberry, pear and almond galette. and now I know what I’ll be doing with the next blackberries I buy.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: