Monday, February 20, 2012

Blackberry Shortbread Cake

Another weekend, another blackberry adventure.  This one ended with quite a small haul and wet socks as all the rain (including some massive storms on Friday) has left many of the berries quite literally burst from all the water and the brambles themselves surrounded by deep puddles.  As a result, while the bushes are still laden, the pickings were slimmer.  Still we gathered enough to make a delicious blackberry shortbread cake.

Traditionally I make this cake with an apple filling - just a tin of pie apples mixed with a handful of sultanas and caster sugar and cinnamon to taste, but as S and I started discussion pie type options for the blackberries, I had a vision (can you say vision, should it be tastion?) of how good they would be with the shortbread pastry.  And I was right, it was absolutely delicious!

The pastry for this is very short - i.e. very crumbly.  It will break when you put it in the tin, just pinch bits back together, particularly when doing the sides of the tin.  It is far too crumbly to weave a proper lattice, so I just lay the strips alternately (i.e. one in one direction, next in the other, next in the first direction etc).  It isn't a proper lattice but it looks good and people will be eating it too quickly to really examine the lattice!

The cornflour in the berries as well as the breadcrumbs on the base will help to contain the blackberry juice.  It will look quite liquid when you take it out of the oven but as it cools it sets to a gorgeous texture, almost like a super thick blackberry jam.

Fingers are crossed for a week of sunny weather to dry the brambles out and ripen some of the berries still waiting.  It is going to be funny when our weekends don't revolve around scratched hands and buckets of delicious berries.

(P.S. When I was at the market I saw 200g punnets of blackberries for $6 - by that calculation I reckon we have picked at least $200 worth of berries.)

Blackberry Shortbread Cake

300g flour
180g butter
80-100g sugar
2 egg yolks
grated lemon rind (I use about half a lemon's worth)

4 cups blackberries (about 700g)
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour (or tapioca flour)

tablespoon sugar extra
extra egg yolk mixed with a little water

With fingers combine butter and flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Add sugar, egg yolks and lemon rind and kneed until smooth (you need to taste it to make sure there is enough sugar – should be slightly sweet).  If it doesn't quite come together you can add a little water.  It should come together but still be quite a crumbly pastry.

Cover in glad wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes then cut into 2 pieces, one about 2/3rds the other about 1 third.  Roll the larger one out between 2 sheets of glad bake until about 3-5mm thick.  Grease a 24cm cake tin and line the bottom with glad bake.  Place the pastry in the bottom and make it come about 4cm up the side, trimming the top so it is an even height.  It will break a bit so just push the broken edges back together.  Prick the base all over with a fork and bake weighted down at 180°C for about 10 minutes (I always put a layer of glad bake between my weights and the pastry), then remove the weights, brush the base with the egg yolk glaze and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the base with a thin layer of breadcrumbs, topped with the extra tablespoon of sugar.  Mix together the blackberries, caster sugar and cornflour, then fill the cake.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into strips about 1cm side.  Lay over the top in a lattice pattern.  The pastry is too crumbly to weave properly, so just lay them alternately over to look a bit latticy.  Brush the top with the egg yolk mixture and bake at 180°C until golden brown on top, usually about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool before removing from the tin.  Serve warm or cold (I prefer warm) with a big dollop of whipped cream.


  1. Oooooh lattice! (I got disproportionately excited when I saw that). This looks delicious. Unfortunately I would have to buy 3.5 pricey punnets to replicate it so I don't think that will be happening in the near future :( The pastry with a different filling however ... maybe all the oldish apples sitting on my counter ... that is a definite possibility.

    1. You could make it with frozen blackberries which are a bit cheaper, just defrost them first. But it is great with any fruit, the apple version (we cheat and use pie apples, so easy) is very delicious.

  2. This does look great! But the price of blackberries (and blue berries) makes me want to cry. This looks like such a great recipe though. I might try it with apples :) And it's so wonderful to connect with another Canberran blogger! A couple of us are having a blogger meet up this afternoon (the first one!) :)

    1. Well you need to go blackberry picking! The best patch is just off the Tuggeranong Parkway. Pull over about halfway between Lady Denman Drive and the Cotter Road heading south. The pine forest there has heaps of unsprayed berries and hopefully by this weekend it will be a bit less soggy!!! And YAY for Canberra bloggers, it is great reading other people who live in our little city.

  3. $200 worth of berries...I'm swooning :P And this cake looks like it may have a similar effect on the first mouthful. Gorgeous!

    1. It has been an amazing season Kari. I'm just hoping this rain goes away so that we can properly pick again this weekend and the berries will stop bursting from too much water. The cake was fantastic but my Dad's last piece got destroyed when a light bulb exploded over it and it got pelted with shards of glass! What a waste! I think I might have to make him another one to make up for it.