fruit

Blackberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake


When I was young, my mother and I would go blackberry picking in McDade, Texas. 
We always went to the same farm, which was owned by a very small old woman who had puffy white hair. 
We would get there in the morning, wearing old clothes and wide-brimmed hats. 
My mother always wore gloves, because she has beautiful hands, and blackberry bushes are very thorny. 
We would pick blackberries for hours. 
It was hard work. Because the thorns tore up our hands, and because there were fire ants. 
We always got stung by fire ants. 

It was fun though: my brothers and I would run between the bushes 
and eat berries until we felt sick and dig in dusty red dirt that coated our skin. 
Whenever I think back though, I  forget about the fire ants and the dirt and the thorns. 
Instead, I remember that when we drove home, after a day in McDade, 
in the trunk of the car, all of my mother's pots and pans
were filled with 
gleaming 
blackberries. 

It made me feel plenty.  


It's many years later now. 
These past months have been difficult, what with school and all the uncertainty and ache that I guess comes with being 
20.   

But it doesn't matter anymore. Like the thorns and ants and dirt didn't matter. 
Summer is here now. 
And I feel plenty

And life feels like blackberries. 

Life is all blackberries. 


XOXO



Blackberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake
via SmittenKitchen.com

SmittenKitchen suggested making this with a variety of berries. But I love blackberries. So there ya go. I've included her recipe for glaze, which sounds amazing, but which I was too lazy to make. 
This entire cake was eaten in under 24 hours. I kid you not. 


Cake
2 1/2 cups (355 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (340 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
3 cups (350 to 450 grams) mixed berries

Glaze
2 cups (240 grams) powdered or confections’ sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, very, very soft

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 10-cup Bundt pan, either with butter or a nonstick spray.* Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk or sift 2 1/2 cups flour (leaving 2 tablespoons back), baking powder and salt together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and impossibly fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then, with the mixer on a low speed, add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Beat in vanilla, briefly. Add 1/3 flour mixture to batter, beating until just combined, followed by half the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk and remaining flour mixture. Scrape down from time to time and don’t mix any more than you need to. In the bowl where you’d mixed your dry ingredients, toss the berries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. With a silicon spatula, gently fold the berries into the cake batter. The batter will be very thick and this will seem impossible without squishing the berries a little, but just do your best and remember that squished berries do indeed make for a pretty batter.
Spread cake batter — you might find it easier to plop it in the pan in large spoonfuls, because it’s so thick — in the prepared baking pan and spread the top smooth. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the cake 180 degrees after 30 (to make sure it browns evenly). The cake is done as soon as a tester comes out clean of batter. At 10 minutes before my baking time was up, a tester was totally wet with batter and I wascertain it would never be done in the estimated time. 7 minutes later, the same tester was clean as a whistle, so fret not.
Set cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, before inverting the cake onto a serving platter to cool the rest of the way. Cool completely. Once cool, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth and very, very thick. (If you’d like it thinner, add more juice, but I like the thick drippiness of it, seen above.) Spread carefully over top of cake, letting it trickle down the sides when and where it wishes. Serve at once or keep it covered at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.


Blueberry Boy Bait


Now is the time for staring out of windows at gray skies, or lying on your bed and looking at the ceiling. 
Is it wrong that sometimes, when terrible things happen in the world, I can't quite summon the energy to feel rage or even sadness? 
I just feel numb. 
It is winter now, and I am methodically eating my way through a box of clementines and wishing that someone would cuddle me, while we both drank wine and got silly. 
This is not happening. 
To comfort myself, I baked a cake for the first time in months and months and months. 

I forgot about the calming power of baking: You measure everything, neatly arrange your ingredients on the countertop. The mixer hums, and the measuring spoons clink, and for a while, your mind can just rest from thinking about everyone and everything. The world dissolves in favor of blueberries and brown sugar. This is what I like about making things. This is why I like kitchens and washing dishes. It's real. Tactile. You can feel it. Hear it. Smell it. Taste it. 



There is a line from the T.S. Eliot poem "The Wasteland" that I will never forget, it goes:

“What shall I do now? What shall I do?
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
What shall we ever do?”


What shall we ever do when babies cry or your parents cry or people get sick or death happens or people forget your name or the grocery store is unbearable? As my dear friend Zoe said, "And I want to save everyone and I don't know where to even begin to fix so very many broken things." How do you fix the broken things? 

I don't know. 


I don't know if walking the streets with your hair down is the answer. 



I think you should bake this cake. Not only because it's called Blueberry Boy Bait, (the idea being that it's so delicious you'll have to beat your suitors away with a stick)  and the alliterative possibilities are endless. 
You should bake this cake because it is simple. You should bake this, because in a world where nothing is certain, to know that you can measure things and combine them in such a way, that when you are finished there will be cake to eat, that's special. That's something. 



Now is the time for staring out of windows at gray skies, or lying on your bed and looking at the ceiling. 
But is also the time to hold the ones you love close, despite all our imperfections and collective weirdness. 

All I feel is love. 


xoxo

Blueberry Boy Bait
via SmittenKitchen.com who adapted from 
Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original

Serves 12, generously
2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

Topping
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.
For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)





Blueberry Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

This morning at 8:20 am, my cousin Claire sent me my weekly inspirational text: 

LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP.

She texts me this every Monday, religiously. That is just how beyond fantastic she is. 



It is the most important thing in the world to remember. 
I was having such a fine day today. I slept in. I went for a beautiful walk. I felt a lot of love for humanity and life and trees and just everything. 
I thought about the change from summer to fall, and how it's almost a physical feeling: you feel it in your bones. I thought a lot about how I need to find some new dreams to fit the new season. And then I started thinking too much, and suddenly I got overwhelmed with school and with life and how little I know, and how many people I talk to in a single day, and how much there is to learn, and where am I going and what am I doing and what will I do tomorrow and the next day and I want to talk to everyone and do everything, but I also need to read books and write and sing and how do you fit all of this into a day when things like Facebook exist? 

I don't know. 

The thing is, I want to be the kind of girl who simultaneously talks about Botticelli paintings AND rides a motorcycle.



And I had the realization that I'm just not that girl yet. 

I was feeling pretty terrible, until I remembered about LIGHTENING THE FUCK UP. 

And then I began to laugh. And I thought back to this weekend, which was kind of a dream, but also very weirdly wild, and I thought about all the crazy people I know, and I thought about this fantastic cake I baked late last night, just because I wanted to. 

And I remembered that things really aren't bad. 
Perfect? 
Never. 
Actually, that's a lie. 
Things are actually perfect when you eat this cake. 

But just because you do not know what is coming next, it does not mean that things are bad, and just because you are uncertain, it does not mean things are bad, and just because you are young and occasionally do ridiculous things that you maybe say you regret but actually don't, it does not mean things are bad. 
So just LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP. And bake that angst right out of your system. 
Right. Now. 



xoxo


Raspberry or Blueberry or Blackberry Buttermilk Cake
via SmittenKitchen.com who adapted from 
Gourmet, June 2009

I used blueberries and blackberries instead of raspberries as the cake originally called for. This is divine. A very tender, and very perfect everyday cake that takes minutes to whip together, and even fewer minutes to devour. 

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (146 grams) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large (57 grams) egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) fresh raspberries OR blueberries OR blackberries OR both

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup (146 grams) sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter (see Note) raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.




Strawberry Custard Pie


Let me tell you about something that is really spectacular. 

Friends. 



I mean. Friends are the people who hold your hand when you are crying because LIFE is just too much to handle, and friends are the people you jump on beds with, and friends are the people who you are so comfortable with you don't even have to talk, and friends are the people who get your thought machine and your laughter machine and your happiness machine going. Friends are the ones who serve as your wingmen, who text you inspirational quotes informing you to FUCKING LIGHTEN UP, who show you how to refold a paper crane six times until you finally know how to do it, who assure you that you didn't do anything TOO embarrassing last night, who dance with you in awkward public places, who call you at midnight, the ones who tell you that you better get it together, the ones who walk you back to your apartment late at night, who come to your shows, who write you letters telling you all the things you needed them to say without you even knowing that you needed them to say it, they're the people you spill to, they are the ones who somehow got your trust and wormed their way into your life without you even knowing it. And sometimes they are new/old strangers and sometimes you have known them since playgrounds and baby swimming pools. But somehow, they are THERE. 

Some come and go. Some never go away. Some keep your trust. Some lose it. 

And this is all painful and all good at the same time. 

Who can know why? 



All I want to say is that I am so impossibly grateful for the friends in my life. The new ones. The old ones. The best ones. Even the distant ones. 



They mean the world. 

I baked out all of this friend love into a Strawberry Custard Pie. Strawberry Custard Pie is dedicated to my frambly. For the good times and bad times we are about to have, and for all the talking and laughing we are going to do about it. 

I'm already so grateful. 

xoxo



Strawberry Custard Pie



Pie Crust from BAKED by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 


1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
In a food processor whirl together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the VERY COLD BUTTER into small pieces and blend until the mixture forms into pea-sized chunks. Dribble in water and whirl until dough just comes together. Or, you can just do all of this with your fingers! 
Take dough out of processor and knead until dough comes together. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for one hour before using. 

Filling:
5 eggs
1 scant c. sugar
4 T. melted butter
½ t. vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
about 2 pints strawberries

1/2 recipe Pie Crust

Position an oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. On a well-floured surface, roll pie dough into a circle large enough to cover the pie plate and hang 1 inch over the sides. Fit the dough into the pie plate, crimp the crust and place it in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the filling.
Beat the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a mixer, or with a whisk, until completely combined and pale yellow. Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator, strawberries into shell, making an even layer. Pour filling over the fruit.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until the filling has set and the crust is light brown. Allow the pie to cool. Eat.