Last weekend, Small Boy and I headed out to a small area of marshland around a mile from our home, on a blackberry picking mission. We had been promising ourselves for some time that we would do it, and so, armed with tough gardening gloves and plastic bags, we set off. However, pickings were slim, and despite hunting for an hour, we found nary a blackberry in sight. Dejected and slightly crumpled at the thought of waiting a year for a decent crumble to roll around again, we grumbled off home…and on the way back, on a different side of the road, we came across what might well be the last fruiting blackberry bush of the season. The ones at the front were all gone, but I clambered in (!) with my gloves, and set to work. They were small and slightly bitter, hidden away in the darkness of the brambles, and not particularly suitable for snacking on, so I folded them into a cake instead… I usually use bananas to bind my vegan cakes with, but had heard rumour that apple sauce was a decent substitute too, and figured an apple-and-blackberry cake would be the perfect place to test that out. It makes for a surprisingly light cake, moist yet delicate, and is definitely one I will be making again!
Serves 8 comfortably from 18p each (22p each with icing!)
180g butter substitute, 39p (55p/250g, Sainsburys ‘baking block’)
180g sugar, 16p (90p/1kg, Fairtrade granulated sugar)
1 tbsp cooking oil, 2p (£3/3l, Sainsburys)
4 tbsp applesauce, 17p (£1.20/420ml, Sainsburys)
100g blackberries, 40p (£2/500g, Sainsburys frozen forest fruits)
275g self raising flour, 12p (65p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics)
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2p (90p/180g, Sainsburys)
3 tbsp cocoa powder, 18p (£2.10/250g, Sainsburys)
A pinch of salt, >1p (40p/750g, Sainsburys)
First grab your blackberries and pop them into a small saucepan on the hob on a low heat to break them down. Add a tablespoon of sugar to sweeten them if they are a little bit hard. Cook gently with a splash of water, giving them a stir every now and again, while you put together the rest of the cake mixture.
Take a large mixing bowl, and add your chosen butter substitute a tablespoon at a time. This makes the next bit easier, as it minimises the amount of huge lumps of fat you have to beat through to make a smooth creamy paste to start you off. Add the sugar, and beat well with a fork or wooden spoon until well combined. Add the oil and applesauce and beat again.
Pour in half of the flour, and the bicarbonate of soda and salt, and the cocoa, and mix to a dark, sloppy batter. Gradually add the remaining flour, mixing it all together.
Tip in the blackberries – mind, they might be warm! – and give it all one last stir before standing the cake mix to one side.
Turn your oven on to 160C, and lightly grease a cake tin, loaf tin or muffin tray. Pour the batter in and pop it in the oven, to bake for 45 minutes (12 for muffins!) It is ready when it is risen and firm, and a sharp knife or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Depending on your oven or rhe shape of your cake tin, it may need a little longer.
When finished, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely for at least an hour before icing it.
To make the icing, mix 70g soft spread (15p) with 110g sugar (10p) and a couple of blackberries. Beat until well combined, and spread on top – and around the sides if you want to!
I decorated mine with some foraged elderflower from my garden and a little mint from my kitchen, but some extra berries and a little sugar would do just fine.
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