blackberry buttermilk cake with blackberry compote

June has sneaked right up on me. I knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less surprising to find that the month of May has come to an end so quickly. June brings lots of events this year — my daughter’s last day of kindergarten, a trip to Chicago, our wedding anniversary, a trip to Las Vegas, and my mom’s (and her twin sister’s) birthday. And, with another month gone by comes another chance to pay homage to that great lost food-lovers’ magazine, Gourmet, with a recipe from June of years past for gourmet, unbound.

I decided to make a pair of recipes this month, instead of just one. It just made sense to prepare both. One seemed quite lonely without the other. The blackberry buttermilk cake was inspired by the raspberry buttermilk cake from the June 2009 issue, and the blackberry compote comes from the June 2000 issue.

I grew up eating the wild blackberries that grew in the woods surrounding my childhood home. I vividly remember hot Florida summers, getting scratched by the thorny brambles of the blackberry bushes, purple-stained fingers and lips, the sweet taste of the so-dark-purple-they-were-almost-black blackberries.

I recruited my most enthusiastic kitchen helper for assistance with this cake, and she did a fabulous job. She poured, mixed, greased the pan, placed the blackberries on the cake, and sprinkled sugar on top. She even gave me huge warm fuzzies when she told me she loved cooking with me. It made my afternoon all the more sweet.

This cake is fairly subtle, sweet but not oversweet. It’s the perfect light dessert to serve in the summer or with brunch. The compote really makes the dish, so don’t leave that part out.

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Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

(Recipe only slightly adapted from this recipe in the June 2009 issue of Gourmet. I used blackberries instead of raspberries, and I added some orange flower water to the wet ingredients. Makes 6 servings.)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon orange flower water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries (about 5 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in the middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. (Consider using a round of parchment in the bottom of the pan; I didn’t and I had some problems with the cake sticking.)
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Then beat in vanilla and orange flower water. Add egg and beat well.
  4. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
  5. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.
  6. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 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. Serve with blackberry compote.

Blackberry Compote

(Recipe from the June 2000 issue of Gourmet. This can be made ahead and kept covered and chilled for up to 4 days. Makes about 2 cups.)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (about 15 ounces, fresh)
  1. Bring water, sugar, lemon juice, and allspice to a boil in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Cool syrup to lukewarm and discard allspice.
  2. Purée 2 cups blackberries with all of syrup in a blender. Force purée through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds. Stir remaining cup of berries into sauce; or, if not serving immediately, stir the whole berries in just prior to serving.
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8 Responses to “chocolate chip banana cake”

  1. Kiran @ — February 1, 2015 @ 9:05 pm

    As soon as we have overriped bananas, i’m baking these deliciousness! Happy knitting, my friend 🙂

  2. Flavia — February 1, 2015 @ 9:25 pm

    I always look forward to your posts, MJ. Your writing is soothing and comforting and it always feels like I’m in the place you are describing. It’s been so much fun sharing our new hobbies–knitting for you; crochet for me. Although I’m still riding the learning curve of crochet, taking up this endeavor has helped calm the “noise” in my head and the anxiety in my heart. And seeing something created from a simple skein of yarn amazes me continually. It’s just the same with cooking or baking. Ingredients coming together to make a delicious end result. Banana Cake with chocolate chips is one of my favorites. I’m recently converted to hand-chopping a bar (or two) of chocolate  for a more rustic “look” to the chips–I love the sharp shards, some of which melt while others only melt a little, giving the chips texture throughout the cake.

  3. Paula — February 2, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

    I love banana bread and often add chocolate chips.  I’ve never made it in cake form and yours looks wonderful, love the addition of cinnamon.  That Guernsey Wrap looks wonderful too and I’m looking forward to seeing your finished one (as I am looking forward to your other banana cake recipe).  Have a safe flight to San Diego and happy knitting 🙂

  4. Sharon — February 2, 2015 @ 1:36 pm

    Looks delicious…wish my bananas weren’t so ripe.  Question:  are you allowed knitting needles on a flight?  Just asking.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 4th, 2015 @ 5:19 pm

      They’re allowed on Delta, and I’d imagine they’re allowed on the other major US airlines, but it’s a good idea to check first.

  5. Beth (OMG! Yummy) — February 2, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

    Love the rum and yogurt in it. My daughter is leaving on a trip on her birthday — I will be making a batch of banana chocolate chip mini loaves to send her off with. Nothing is more comforting or delicious than baked banana and chocolate, at least not in our house! Enjoy San Diego!

  6. Mallory @forkvsspoon — February 3, 2015 @ 11:39 am

    I love that wrap!!  I have not had the confidence to start a sweater, but this wrap seems a bit more approachable…Hope you have a safe trip and this cake, while I am not a fan of banana baked goods, everyone in my office is begging me to make it for them!  

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