As a chef and farmer, my days are full of work, and yet I always stop and make time to enjoy seasonal produce as it comes to market. I have such a fondness for anything raspberry – my love for this fruit goes a long way back. This week, I could not resist raspberries at $2/pint so I bought four from the local farm in Perkinsfield, Ontario. I had eaten at least one pint as I was driving back to the farm. One of the great joys of being a chef is trying to decide what to make with the produce. Sometimes I experiment and sometimes I rely on my time-tested recipes. Raspberry Riches is one of those recipes that I have been baking for years.
I have gone to pick your own raspberry farms on many occasions – but they are hit and miss with respect to availability and the season is so short you have to time it perfectly. Here on Wynyates Farm, we have them growing – once again the challenge is to get to the raspberries before the birds and other creatures do. Animals know when the fruit is just ripe for the picking. My strategy is to watch for lots of activity and check out the canes for fruit. I also find it challenging to harvest a large amount at one time.
On Wynyates Farm, the raspberries are harvested in small portions and find their way into bowls of cereal, compotes or as a side to cake. Raspberries can get very expensive – even in season here in Ontario. So when I can get them cheaply, I buy lots and bake with them and freeze the rest. They do freeze well – wash them gently just before freezing. I simply lay them on a sheet and place on a level surface in the freezer so the berries are not clumped together. In the restaurant world, this process is called IQF – individually quick frozen. You see its use in the grocery stores with chicken breasts, shrimps, scallops and, yes, berries, too! They are easier to use if they are single morsels of fruit. I just bought a Cusinart ice cream maker, and I am looking forward to making frozen raspberry yoghurt.
Here is a detailed link that will help.
I am recalling my childhood fruit favorites – it would have to be raspberries and the “bumble”berries I used to pick near our family cottage in Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe, Ontario. There was an empty field down and across the lane where I built a fort in the tall grass. In that field I became a hunter-gatherer. I would find the berries and use them to make lipstick. I would squash them all with a spoon into a tea cup that I had stolen from the kitchen and devour them like candy. Found food is a gift from heaven that I still find the same joy and delight in as I did in my childhood days.
Later in the summer, the wild apple trees filled with green and oh so tart apples – which I knew even then were not ripe. Greed overcame me – I had to eat them. I felt like an adventurer that had found heaven, and I was determined to keep this spot a secret garden - hidden from my seven siblings. By this time, my parents knew about me disappearing and trusted that I would always return.
Later, we moved our cottage life to Rousseau – Morgan Bay to be exact. There the fields on our 40 acres were filled with black raspberries. Even my utter fear of bears combined with my knowledge of their eating habits – FYI, berries are a bear’s favorite snack – I would still go and harvest the berries to make jam. I can still taste it!
I had the joyful culinary experience of tasting golden or yellow raspberries when I visited the Kemtpville Farmers' Market. Try to find a farmer who sells these most delicious berries in the universe.
Today I am sharing a special recipe that I first came across at least a decade ago in a cooking magazine. Years later I saw it published in Saveur, a magazine with wonderful recipes and interesting features of international cuisines – it is in their cookbook, Saveur Cooks Authentic American.
I have made a few changes to the recipe over the years. This is a very simple cake and is low in fat – the star is the fruit – I omit the suggested grated chocolate from the original recipe. Secondly I use almond extract and vanilla extract or paste. Some people find almond extract very powerful, so if you want to reduce the amount by half or omit it from the recipe feel free to do so. My topping has oats and almonds in it. I just happen to adore almonds and especially with fruit.
You can use any fruit you like with this basic cake batter – blueberries, apricot, plum, rhubarb, peaches or apples and pears in the fall.
Chef Elizabeth’s Raspberry Riches
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups fresh red raspberries
Rolled Oat Topping:
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup butter, melted
Combine all of the dry ingredients and then add melted butter. Blend until it clumps together – if the mixture is too dry, add some more melted butter, a few tablespoons at a time.
Melt and cool unsalted butter. Heat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8- or 9-inch round or square baking pan.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl.
In another bowl, beat together egg, buttermilk and vanilla and almond extract or paste until smooth. Stir in cooled melted butter. Add dry ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until nearly smooth. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. The batter will be very thick.
Sprinkle with raspberries. Top with Rolled Oat Topping. Bake until nicely browned, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool on rack until warm. Serve warm. It is delicious the next day.
I hope you enjoy this cake and use the base year round with seasonal fruit.
Until next time, Santé,