The British Isles are defined by distinct seasons. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter each bring their own unique offerings to the table, with periods lean and plentiful alike playing their part in the circularity of our culinary year.
While early summer brings blossoms, freshness and promise, late August and early September are a time of glorious abundance. These final days of summer bring with them a plethora of wild bounty, as glittering inky berries, pale fragrant fungi and wild-growing nuts ripen on hedgerows and scruffy rail verges alike.
The list of produce to forage is extensive: elderberries, blackberry and wild plums are just several of the delicious ingredients that you can find during in late August. Baked beneath a simple vanilla sponge, late-summer fruit make for a truly special pudding.
1 vanilla pod
150g caster sugar
75g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch fine sea salt
50ml vegetable oil
Heat your oven to 170C. Grease an 8″ cake tin lightly with oil, and line the base with a circle of baking parchment.
Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, then set them aside for the cake batter. Lay the empty pod on the base of your lined cake tin, and sprinkle over 25g of the caster sugar. Arrange the berries over the sugar. You should pack them in neatly and tightly, to help them keep their shape when they are baking.
For the sponge, whisk the egg with the remaining 125g caster sugar for several minutes until the mixture is thick, pale and has doubled in volume.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the egg mixture, and fold in gently. Add the milk, oil and vanilla seeds, and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter over the fruit, and level with a palette knife if necessary. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in it’s tin for 15-20 minutes, then run a palette knife around the edge, and turn the cake out onto a plate. Serve warm with cream or creme fraiche.Enjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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