I know, I know: sharing a recipe for a dessert calling for mixed berries isn’t exactly the most seasonal thing I could be doing in September. But hear me out: I am madly in love with this recipe, as is everyone who has tried it – either because I made it for them or because they made it themselves (yes, this recipe has already made the rounds) – and I could not bear to wait until next summer to share it with you. So there you have it.
Also, I believe it goes without saying (and apologies, seasonal police) that you can find berries year-round and you might just be craving something that reminds you of warmer weather come September (and beyond). Moreover, maybe, by some chance, there are still local berries in your market when you read this … or, perhaps you froze some of your berries from this past summer’s haul and are dying to figure out how to use them (umh, the answer is: use them in this cake).
Finally, if all of this is just blasphemy to you, you can use chopped apples or pears (don’t even worry about peeling them) sprinkled with some cinnamon and sugar instead of the berries, if you’re feeling fancy.
Let’s get to the recipe already!
Okay, enough excuses and explaining, let’s get to the recipe and why I love it so. First, it is a snacking cake and that is my favorite kind. Snacking cakes are small and are usually 8x8x2-inche squares and are perfect for a weeknight dessert made on the fly (i.e.: like right when you’re starting to make dinner and realize you’re going to want something sweet after you eat it). This one also happens to be one-bowl, which is also one of my favorite kinds of baked goods – meaning you assemble the whole shebang in a single bowl and thus save yourself from having to do a bunch of dirty dishes etc. (You’re welcome). And, of course, the combo of one-bowl and snacking cake means it is EASY PEASY. My third favorite kind of treat.
In short, the cake comes together extremely quickly and is a breeze to assemble. I like to (generously) sprinkle Turbinado (raw sugar) over the top before baking it, as it adds the loveliest of sparkles to the cake, as well as a delectable crunch. But you do you. The cake is lovely with a dollop of whipped cream or even a drizzle of heavy cream – and, no, I will not be angry if you go the vanilla ice cream route, I promise.
For the cake batter:
Yield: 12 slices
2/3 cup mild olive oil, or vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2/3 cups buttermilk, or whole milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups of your favorite berries
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray an 8x8x2-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray or softened butter. Line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugars, and vanilla. Add the egg, and then the yolk, whisking after each. Add the buttermilk and whisk a final time.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of parchment, and using the parchment as a funnel, add the dry ingredients to the wet in three installments, folding with a flexible spatula after each, just to incorporate. Do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with the berries and then with the Turbinado sugar.
Transfer the cake to the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan after 20 minutes. The cake is done when a tester inserted into the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Bring to room temperature before dusting with confectioners sugar and serving along with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, or not, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or not. The cake will keep wrapped in plastic wrap for three days on the counter – and some claim it gets better with age. •
Jessie is a baker and cookbook author; you can learn more about her through her website jessiesheehanbakes.com.