Autumn is now officially here; the tomatoes have turned orange on brittle stems, the courgettes are finally ending their reign, and now is the time for golden quinces, autumn apples, and a few last, late blackberries clinging to brambles.
It was when we were on our way home, the sun sinking low and golden, that we found the blackberries. Hedgerow upon hedgerow, heavy with fruit. They squashed between our fingers, on our tongues. I still remember their taste, perfumed and sweet. Not the bright, Mat sweetness of a strawberry , but deeper, more mysterious, as if they’d drawn the cold, smoky nights into their juice, as if they’d seen midnight. – From Where the Wild Cherries Grow.
I love working with ingredients that are simple, that sing to people’s memories. The taste of blackberries, to me, will always be picking them with my father, or the taste of my grandmother’s crumble, the scratches and the beads of blood that you always have to pay for the fruit with. There is no sense in buying blackberries; commercially grown blackberries are too big, too tart, and never have the musky, almost feral sweetness that makes them so timeless and evocative.
So here we are, a nod to my own memories, and to Monsieur Proust’s, and a recipe for Blackberry Madeleines.
- 2 free-range eggs
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100g plain flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp vanilla bean extract, or 1 vanilla bean pod
- Large handful of blackberries (one for each cake)
- Icing sugar, to decorate
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C / 400F / Gas mark 6. Brush your madeleine or bun tin with melted butter and dust with a little flour.
- Whisk together the eggs and caster sugar until light and frothy.
- Melt the butter and leave to cool slightly, then stir in along with the flour, baking powder and vanilla bean extract.
- Leave to rest for a few minutes, then spoon into the prepared tins.
- Press a blackberry into the middle of each madeleine.
- Bake for around 8-10 minutes, or until risen and pale golden.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly, dust with icing sugar, and serve warm.
P.s. If you don’t have a madeleine tin, you can use a shallow bun tin or similar. This’ll make 12-14, depending on the size. Just keep an eye on your cakes as they cook.
This recipe was first featured in the excellent Domestic Sluttery Newsletter. If you liked it, do consider signing up to my own monthly newsletter. It features original recipes, historic recipes, research, Q&As with some of my favourite people, and more.
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