Some friends of my fiance and I all decided to take a trip out to Terhune Orchards, a beautiful farm in Princeton, New Jersey. There were blueberries and blackberries ready to be harvested and eaten out of hand.
We started off meandering through the blueberry aisles. It was quiet, serene, and we were alone. I like the alone part. After about six minutes we all looked at each other with amazement in how intense the heat was getting. Swollen, sweaty, and determined are the words I am going to use here.
It was hot, like really hot, but there was this determination and addicting desire to fill our berry buckets with these lovely gifts we came for. We definitely did try to get an early start to the day knowing the possible temperatures we were in for, but sometimes life just happens and the heat is bound to seriously roll in. It did, yup. We felt it.
We were melting and soaked, it was awesome and so intense. I was just realizing that this was only a snippet of the hard work it takes to harvest fruit and vegetables with the summer heat. Though, the blissful and peaceful nature of picking is what kept us going in for more. We shared luscious peak of the season berries picked from the very bushes they descended from. It was incredible, rewarding, and my first experience with it.
The larger blueberries were sweet and full of pectin and the small were crunchy with a burst of tart juice, those are D.’s very favorite. He loves everything tart, a true life sour patch kid.
The real kid and little monkey on this visit though, was the beautiful miss Z. and I so enjoyed snapping shots of her running and gathering throughout the rows of berries.
Blueberries carry their beautiful flavor all in their skin, which is why the tiniest wild blueberries taste so good, they’re all skin. A dark blue and taught skin is what you’re looking for in a perfect blueberry.
These berries graced us with their simple and untouched powdery bloom and showed us the flavor they don’t share too often.
It was an intact flavor that you can only experience directly off the vine. It was an experience unlike any other and one you would especially not have with a carton from the supermarket. It was something, once I popped a little blueberry onto my tongue, I knew to savor that tiny explosion.
After some blueberry picking we took a short break to recover from the heat. We sat underneath this cool summery tent where Z. had access to a lot full of toy tractors and where a friendly dog paid us a visit. We were equipped with water and a picnic table. A peaceful recess was all we needed towards an amazingly beautiful and rewarding day so far. We were refreshed and soon to be lost in some blackberry picking.
We returned to picking and ventured into the mini forested aisles of blackberries and the shooting vines that contained them. We were searching for the most plump looking berries we could find. I especially sought after the berries with single drupelet sacs that looked as if they were about to explode. Not all blackberries mature this way, but those that do are a tasty treat. They’re the least astringent and also yield a slightly sweeter and juicier berry. You can really tell a ripe blackberry by the sheen that each drupelet displays, a true jewel from nature. We picked two full quarts of blackberries and three pounds of blueberries in total.
I had ideas.
I knew I wanted to make a couple of different things with our day’s pickings, but for now I kept it simple in this blackberry and blueberry buckle cake. I made it two ways, one using gluten free flours and the other with traditional wheat flours.
A berry buckle is the answer because it typically contains more fruit than the average cake, bread, or muffin recipe. In this buckle, the ratio of batter to berries is practically 1:1. That’s a lot of fruit, but served warm, it is a perfect contrast between the sweet vanilla scented cake and the tart berries. It also showcases how vibrant their colors are within a tender, white, thick slice of a canvas, that is cake. Tie dye style. Two ways: gluten free and traditional.
This trip was such a success and so much fun. I am truly grateful for our very kind friends who helped us have such a beautiful day. I just want to say thank you M, N, and Z. On our end, we got to fully pick our hearts out and D. and I so appreciate all your efforts in coordinating this special memory. Love you guys.
Until next time, I have some of our day’s berries leftover and I think I know just how to preserve their goodness, I cannot wait.
Dairy Free and Gluten Free Blackberry and Blueberry Buckle Cake
Makes 6-8 mini cakes
1/2 cup superfine white rice flour
1/4 cup millet flour
6 tb hazelnut or almond meal
5 tb potato starch
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 tb sugar
1/2 tsp ground Tahitian vanilla bean or 1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tb almond milk
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg, sugar, vanilla bean, and lemon zest until smooth. Add the oil and almond milk until they’re completely incorporated into the mixture.
Slowly begin to stir in the flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients
When batter is prepared, use an ice cream scoop to portion out the batter into the prepared baking cups or dishes used
Scatter the berries over the prepared cakes and slightly push them into place
Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester runs clean
Blackberry and Blueberry Buckle Cake
Makes 1 8′ inch cake
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground Tahitian vanilla beans or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup blueberries
2 cup blackberries
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tb unsalted butter, cold, cubed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8′ inch baking pan or glass baking dish.
For the buckle topping, combine 1/3 cup of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. With your hands rub in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Refrigerate topping while making cake batter.
For the batter, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla bean, and lemon zest together until fluffy. Beat in the egg until smooth. Beat in half of the flour mixture and half of the coconut milk, alternating with the flour and milk until completely incorporated. Pour half of the mixed berries into the prepared baking dish.
Next, spread the batter into the prepared baking dish over the berries. Scatter the remaining berries over the batter and gently press them into place. Sprinkle with the crumb topping and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a cake tester runs clean.
Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature.