Wild berries are pretty incredible. Most berries are resource-intensive to farm commercially, so we’re used to an expensive product from the supermarket that’s only kind of okay, taste-wise. Then, all of a sudden, nature says, “Here they are: they’re free, they taste more interesting, you didn’t have to work for them, and they are available in great quantity, for one week only. Go!” It’s a little overwhelming and makes you want to drop everything and eat some berries. This may be why yesterday evening, I found Ben in the backyard ostensibly working (he had a wheelbarrow with him, after all), when he was actually taking handfuls of wineberries to the face.
Black raspberries (known to a lot of people as black caps) are less common around here, so I was happy to find a few patches of them scattered throughout our property these past weeks. They’re sweet but a little wine-y tasting, kind of brambly and complex. I picked a quart in just 10 minutes or so, ate as many as I wanted, and then picked some more, so I was on the lookout for ways to use them up.
A 2002 recipe from Saveur caught my eye, because it called specifically for black raspberries (it’s surprisingly difficult to find recipes that don’t just call for any kind of raspberry interchangeably). For the most part, it’s a standard crumble coffee cake, with a layer of batter, a layer of fruit, and a crumble-like topping, but the crumble includes just a little bit of chopped semi-sweet chocolate.
In the oven, chocolate and brown sugar melt into the berries, cooking down into a jammy layer that’s pretty unusual, playing up the darker character of the black raspberries. Tea-towel stains aside, I’ll be making this again with the quart of berries I have stored away in the freezer. Happy summer—here’s hoping you have a patch of something good to plunder near you.
Black raspberry coffee cake
Adapted from this 2002 Saveur recipe, I found that the baking time was off–my berries expelled a ton of juice, making for a wetter cake that took a long time to cook through. The resulting cake is nice and moist and dense, but takes longer than the original recipe calls for. I’ve adjusted cooking times based on my experience, but you may want to start checking around the 40 minute mark in case I just had very juicy batch of berries.
Also, they do note that you can use red raspberries—but I haven’t tried that.
- For the topping:
- 1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 1⁄2 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I think you could also use dark chocolate here, although I haven’t tried it)
- For the cake:
- 1 cup flour
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt (I used kosher salt and I think I missed the salt a bit, so I would use fine grain salt if possible)
- 1⁄3 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄3 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1⁄4 cups fresh black raspberries
- Make the topping: In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the mixture until it is evenly distributed in small pieces throughout (the mixture should look sandy). Stir in the chopped chocolate and set the mixture aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-inch, springform pan and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. In another medium-sized bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just completely combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the berries evenly in a layer on top of the batter. Sprinkle the topping evently over the berries.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, until cake does not jiggle in the middle when you tap the pan, and edges are dark brown. Allow to cool for at least ten minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature. Keeps for up to a week wrapped tightly in plastic.