I’ve just discovered another way of using home-grown berries, and it involves cake, a perfect combination as far as I’m concerned.
I’m all for using berries from the allotment in crumbles, but I realised a few days ago that they can be used to make cake-icing, instead of using synthetic food-colouring, and it was a bit of a revelation.
I used the icing for the first time last weekend on a birthday cake for my daughter.
This particular recipe used loganberry icing, but I used jostaberries, [they’re a cross between a gooseberry and a blackcurrant ] picked and frozen a few months ago from the allotment. Instead of tasting mostly of butter and icing sugar, it had an intense, fruity flavour and, as it turns out, was a rather fetching shade of pink.
These quantities make enough icing for a 20cm cake or 24 cupcakes,
120g of fresh or defrosted berries
500g of sifted icing sugar
2 or 3 tablespoons of icing sugar for the fruit puree
1 tablespoon of milk
190g of unsalted, softened butter
1/2 teaspoon of kirsch
1/2 teaspoon of lemon
puree the berries in a food mixer [I used my trusty, old food processsor] with the icing sugar until smooth, then strain through a fine seive to get the lovely juices.
Add the milk, butter and half of the icing sugar to the fruity liquid, and mix thoroughly, then add the rest of the icing sugar and mix untill smooth. This took less than a minute in my food processor, but it’ll vary depending on what type of mixer you use, or even longer if you’re mixing by hand. The aim is for the icing to be smooth and creamy so that it’ll hold it’s shape.
Mix in the kirsch and lemon juice, and gradually add more sugar if it’s not thick or sweet enough, it’s worth doing this very gradually and tasting it as you go along.
I sandwiched the two cake layers together with blackcurrant jam and icing, and spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides.
It would be nice to try different berries, foraged blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and gooseberries all seem like good candidates. The sharper berries definately need more sugar, so taste whillst mixing and adjust accordingly.
The original recipe is from Claire Pataks’ book, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, one of my favourite baking books. The recipes are inspiring and use pure, good quality ingredients.
I’d also recommend growing a jostaberry bush, the fruit are very like blackcurrants, juicy and much bigger with a very, slightly sharper flavour, I guess that’s the gooseberry side of things. They can’t be bought in shops, which is always a big attraction of home-grown food for me.
Happy baking and gardening, Jill
photos: Jill Anderson and Katie Readings