Summer has well and truly arrived and it’s good to be out in the sunshine picking fruit in the fruit field at Slamseys. It’s very meditative working your way along a row of raspberries on a sunny day; there may be a little searching under leaves and the odd wasp to avoid but there’s no bending over or vicious thorns to avoid so it’s easy picking.
Most of the fruit picked from the fruit field at Slamseys is carried just a few metres across to Beth’s unit where she makes Slamseys Fruit Gin, but I divert some into my kitchen to supplement the few that I pick from the garden. We’re a bit depleted this year as most of our raspberry canes were flattened when a fuel tank was moved, though we still have blackcurrants and loganberries.
Soft fruit and cream are a winning combination, perhaps too winning for our waistlines considering the amount of soft fruit we eat each summer – fruit fools, ice-cream sundaes, pavlova, cranachan … One of my favourites is raspberry ripple ice cream made by whipping 600ml of cream, whisking in a tin of condensed milk and rippling in pureed raspberries. It can just be poured into a container and frozen, with no churning or extra whisking. Very simple. Very delicious.
Summer Fruit Loaf Cake is a good way to use the last few berries from jam making or left sitting in the bowl because everyone has eaten enough. It’s a reasonably solid cake. By that I don’t mean you could use it as a door stop, but it’s not as light and airy as an easily squashed Victoria sponge, which makes it ideal to pack for picnics or lunch boxes. I quite often serve it with a blob of cream or yoghurt and call it pudding.
Use any soft fruit, alone or in combination – raspberries, loganberries, blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrants work well. You’ll notice from the photo that if you use a large loganberry, then you get a bit of a hole and a squidge of fruit. If you don’t want this, use small fruit or break large fruits into smaller pieces. Blackcurrants hold their shape particularly well and give a burst of juice when you bite into the cake.
Summer Fruit Loaf Cake
185g caster sugar
Finely grated zest & juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon raspberry vinegar
2 eggs, beaten
185g Plain flour
2 teasp baking powder
40g ground almonds
125g mixed berries
Line a loaf tin with a baking case or parchment (mine is 22 x 11 cm) and preheat the oven to 180C.
Gently heat the butter and sugar in a saucepan until the butter has melted.
Stir in the grated zest of the lemons with 60ml juice and then the eggs and raspberry vinegar.
Put the flour and ground almonds into a large bowl and pour in the contents of the saucepan, beating until you have a smooth, runny batter.
Pour half the batter into the loaf tin and scatter two thirds of the fruit over the surface. Scrape in the remaining batter and drop the rest of the berries evenly over the top without pressing them in.
Bake for about an hour until browned, covering the top with foil if it seems to be browning too much. When it’s cooked, a skewer poked into the cake should come out clean.
Leave to cool and then sift over a dusting of icing sugar.