Deb has been a good friend for years now. I met her while working for a local newspaper. She was editor, writer, saleswoman, and office manager, while I was doing layout and pagination. We somewhat bonded over Quark Xpress, gardening, homestead history, and her fabulous cookies!
Many years and vocations later, we're still friends, and still talk about history, homesteading, and rural life in general. Thankfully Deb is still writing, and we're lucky enough to have her turn her pen of phrase to us. Not being a writer myself, Deb's ability to come up with "just a little something" whether written or baked, amazes me. So here is her "just a little something I came up with" for us to delight in...
Fairy Caps for Lunch
by Deb Quaile
I picked black raspberries today from wild canes that are heavy with fruit, thanks to the rains we've had. Also known as "black caps" or "Scotch caps", Rubus occidentalis have fruits that detach from the carpel, or flower receptacle - not to be confused with blackberries, where the flower receptacle stays inside the fruit (remember the logo on BlackBerry phones?). Black caps and raspberries pop off in little dome shapes - like the Scotch cap a fairy would wear!
But less like red raspberry canes - which do have barbs - the black ones have wickedly long, sharp thorns that eventually snag the arms, shirt or shorts of any careful picker.
I brought the dusky berries home to dunk in a bowl of clean water. No matter how carefully you pick, there are bound to be a couple of insects or tiny worms that come along for the ride. Once you're sure the fruit is free of any debris, drain the water and spread it on an old tea towel to drain (try not to squish them and lose all the glorious juice).
From there, I made a black raspberry and almond cake for tea, although I think it's more fun if you call it a Scotch Cap Cake. Luckily, there are leftovers for dessert too.
Scotch Cap Cake
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Butter and dust with flour a 9x9" square cake pan (I like glass).
- 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup ground almonds
- 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature or slightly softer
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 All Sorts Acres eggs
- 1 cup plain All Sorts Acres yogurt*
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/4 cups fresh black raspberries (frozen would also work)
All Sorts Acres Sheep Milk Gelato or Yogurt, for serving
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground almonds thoroughly in a bowl with a fork.
In a stand mixer with the flat beater attached, cream the soft butter and sugar on medium low speed until fluffy. Turn the mixer off. Crack the eggs in a small bowl and whisk lightly with a fork, and add to the mixing bowl along with the vanilla and yogurt. Mix again on medium low until combined. Turn the mixer off again, scrape down the sides, and add the dry ingredients. Mix on low to prevent the flour from clouding, until the ingredients are combined in a smooth batter. Turn off, remove the bowl from the stand and scrape down the flat beater and the sides again, and gently fold in the black raspberries.
Pour the mixture into the prepared glass cake dish and smooth the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes on the centre rack of the oven or until golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool. May be served warm (that's best!) with a dollop of All Sorts Gelato or Yogurt, or a light dusting of icing sugar on top.
Cover any leftover cake and store in a cool place (perhaps the fridge in the summer) for up to one week.
*If you're using Vanilla Maple yogurt you could omit the vanilla extract.
Deb's lifelong love of words has taken her to many interesting places. Author of four books focusing on the history of southern Ontario, as well as numerous articles for both print and digital magazines, Deb has a passion and skill for turning everyday lives into tales of tenderness and intrigue, while staying true to the lived life. She can be contacted through us here at the farm.