It's been a banner year for blackberries. When we bought the house during the winter of 2009 I was excited to see lots of wild canes growing on our property, all along the driveway and around the edge of the woods. However, we went to Las Vegas in July 2010 and when we got home I was disappointed by the quality and quantity of berries on the canes. There had been a hot dry spell while we were gone and most of the berries were either hard and sour or dried up to mummification.
Not so this year.
The berries have been abundant to say the least. Not all of them are very sweet and some of them are seedier than others, but they're wild plants that we don't maintain other than hacking them back when they threaten to block the driveway. I'm glad to get whatever fruit they offer me. Based on the number of thorns that have pierced my skin while picking berries, clearly all the plants want in return is a blood sacrifice from me.
But I'm not going to complain about a few thorns. Not when I've been able to pick a few handfuls like this from my car window while driving down the driveway. That sounds like the ultimate in pick-your-own, but my friend Kathy simply drives her golf cart into her blackberry patch and picks them that way. Now that's the way to do it.
We also have wineberries that have done well this summer, too.
I think the little nipples left when the fruits are picked look funny.
Ally likes the wineberries best. She prefers to hold the bowl while standing in the grass while I pick them for her in the middle of the patch. (I suppose having someone pick the berries for you is even better than getting to drive a golf cart into the patch.) Ally will help me pick blackberries from the driveway and she might eat a few of them, but mostly she'll put them in the bowl. The wineberries are sweeter, so she eats most of the ones I give her. However, she'll even leave some of the wineberries in the bowl if she knows I'm going to make a dessert with them. I don't know where Ally gets this self restraint as I would have gleefully eaten the whole bowl by myself at her age if my mother wasn't looking.
Last week we picked blackberries and wineberries for a birthday cake for my paternal grandmother, who turned 90 last Sunday. My parents came in on Friday and helped pick, too.
I made my favorite yellow cake recipe and added two heaping cups of blackberries to the batter. When it came out of the oven I spread melted blackberry jelly over the top, then frosted it with caramel icing when it cooled. When I make it again (and oh yes, this will be made many, many times as long as there are blackberries in the freezer), I'll skip the jelly and just use the icing. The jelly make the icing slide off and it's really just gilding the lily.
I should have taken a picture of the cake but you'll just have to take my word that it's good. Really good. And it's even better after a day in the fridge. At least try this yellow cake and that caramel icing even if you don't have any blackberries. I make the icing with buttermilk so it has more of a praline flavor. (FYI, I don't care for the chocolate frosting included with the yellow cake recipe and I haven't made the spice cake with the caramel icing recipe. No need to when you can have this yellow cake and that caramel icing together.)
So instead of a picture of a cake, I leave you with a picture of four generations of Dellingers together. My grandmother did like the cake, but not so much as the idea that her son, grand daughter, and great grand daughter all picked the berries together just for her cake.