Friday, August 8, 2014

Blackberry Mace Cake with Spelt

I made this cake a while back, before the high-strung, be-bopping business of summer really hit. Its energy - its blackberry, mace, and spelt energy - is what I want right now. It is dark and grounded and earthy. It acknowledges summer without giving in to it - I love that. I suppose it also helps that the cake is deeply spiced, darkly fruited, and simple. A cake for Ordinary Time.

Blackberry Mace Cake with Spelt

I've kept a little card of descriptions that I jotted down when I made the cake. I wrote that the cake is "elusive in its whole grain quality," has a "nubby, irregular crumb," and is "spiced, but berry fresh, like Christmas in July." I might add now, that it is exactly the cake I want to bake up on a Friday after dinner, either to eat late at night, after the heat has dissipated and the breeze makes me feel just too cool, or to greet me for coffee in the morning, or, most importantly, to provide that low-key sweet nibble I seem to need on a Sunday afternoon, after my nap but before there is anything else to do.

It is one of those cakes I switch back to after a series of grand (and delicious) layer cakes, or even just a series of loud, stacked days. The past few weeks have been nonstop visitors, family, birthdays, and vacations (camping! with kids!). The past few months, in fact, have been pretty high energy, too. It has been exciting, delightful, fulfilling, beauty-filled, family-centered, and totally overstimulating. We are all a little tired of celebrating. Cedar just came down with a cold, in August. We are all of us tired and tattered from the whirl. I have loved the conversations, but I am tired of talking and listening and am looking forward and looking within to some serious, baritone silence.

The mace in this cake is like that. Silence with substance. Spice that reverberates like the throb of a soundless moments of peace.

Slice of Blackberry Mace Cake with Spelt

So enjoy. The wild blackberries are ripe in our hills and mountains and in the coastal regions. If I weren't so concerned with staying put I would go picking this weekend. And I would eat this cake. Cut the berries if they are very large, but try to leave them whole and unpunctured for this. It will help the batter set up around them. Share the cake with a small, quiet gathering, of your friends, or some friendly people you want to be your friends, like I did.

Happy Friday folks.

Blackberry Mace Cake with Spelt

This recipe makes one smaller bundt, two 6-inch rounds, or one 8 or 9-inch round. (I prefer the 6-inchers.) If you want the berries to stay visible on the surface, be sure to hold out a few for plopping after it has baked a while and had a chance to set up.

1 cups butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar or dark muscavado sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cups sour cream, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pint blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour your cake pan(s) of choice.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, mace, and salt. Whisk well and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, beating well after each.

Add the sour cream and flour mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir just enough to blend. Do not beat or otherwise over mix.

Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top, scatter the blackberries over the top, saving a handful to add to the top after it has baked a while. Slide the pan(s) into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on your pan size). Again, add the reserved berries after the cake has set on top (if you want some to stay on the surface. The cake is done when brown on top and dry when tested in the center with a skewer.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a thin knife and turn out onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least a half hour. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Do not wrap leftovers in plastic. Simply cover with a tea towel. The cake will dry slightly as the days pass (if the days pass), but that is part of its charm, in my opinion. Dust with powdered sugar or serve plain, and enjoy!

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