Delicate blackberry cupcakes, moist sponge jewelled with vibrant berries, topped with a smooth blackberry buttercream.
Back home right now the blackberries will be in season.
I always associate them with the autumn, but really they’re out at the end of summer.
Blackberry picking forms a big part of my childhood memory bank. My village is surrounded by little hedge-row lined lanes. Winding and often puddling, with gaps and low sections giving tantalising glimpses across fields and hills. The wild, rambling hedges are, on a good year, heaving with blackberries. Long tangles of brambles reach up towards the sky, or grow outwards in unruly bulk.
Blackberry picking was somewhat of a ritual, perfected over time.
Everyone carried a large ice cream tub, saved for the purpose, dropped into a plastic bag. The perfect way to collect the most blackberries possible, without crushing any of the fruit. As soon as we started walking we’d keep our eyes open for a crock-stick, a stick with a side branch shooting off in just the right place to make it perfect for hooking the brambles holding the choicest, juiciest blackberries just out of reach.
Reaching tentatively through the branches, trying to avoid getting caught on the thorns, plucking the black, purple, and red little berries. Trying to find the biggest, the tastiest. Getting purple stained hands from those berries that looked so juicy but turned out overripe, exploding juices all over our fingers.
We’d go home laden down with heavy bags full of berries. Hands purple and stinging form the scratches.
These cupcakes are a wonderful way to use the berries of the season.
They’re made with sour cream, so the sponge is deliciously moist and tender. The slight tang of the sour cream compliments the sharp berries beautifully. The blackberries create little fruity, purple fruity pockets right through the cupcakes.
The buttercream is flavoured with a syrup made by cooking down fresh raspberries with sugar. I love the delicate colour it naturally produces. The buttercream is made with both butter and cream cheese, adding richness, making it smooth and creamy. A single blackberry sits proudly on top.
Will you be out picking blackberries this year? What are your favourite ways to cook with them?
for the cupcakes
60g caster sugar
1 large egg
60g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sour cream
50g fresh blackberries
for the icing
70g cream cheese
110g icing sugar
additional blackberries, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/ 350F. Line a cupcake tray with 5 paper cases.
Cream together the butter and sugar until creamy and pale.
Mix in the egg, flour and baking powder, beating to combine.
Fold through the sour cream.
Finally, carefully fold through the blackberries.
Divide the mixture evenly between 5 cupcake cases.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until risen, golden and firm to the touch.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cool, make the buttercream.
Begin by making the syrup that flavours the buttercream. Put the blackberries, 10g of the icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of water into a small pan. Heat over a low heat, string regularly, pushing down the blackberries with the back of a wooden spoon to help break down the blackberries. Once the blackberries are soft and have released most of their juices, push through a sieve, retaining the syrup.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until soft and smooth.
Sift in the remaining icing sugar, and beat until well combined.
Stir through the blackberry syrup.
Pipe or spoon onto your cupcakes, top with an extra blackberry.
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge, and bring back to room temperature before serving.