It is getting quite summery here in Israel, which can either mean being icky and hot all the time if you want to look on the blah-side… But if you are more of a bright-side-looker, it means it’s MULBERRY SEASON!
One thing I love about Israel is the way in which fruit trees just grow in neighborhoods, belonging to no one but the kids of that neighborhood who are wise enough to look upwards when they see a smushed berry on the floor.
That is exactly what happened to me the other day – on campus! Finding the mulberry tree in the middle of my University made me realize that even though for me it’s a place that usually means stress, deadlines, and never-ending programming – it is actually SUCH an amazingly beautiful place once you leave the computer lab and actually open your eyes. I immediately knew that this is the kind of happiness that is meant to be shared with others, and called my friends over to arrange a mulberry picking session.
That session was intense – and I used most of those berries experimenting with jams, tarts, and the cake I will soon show y’all how to make – but even better were the days that followed, in which on every break we took we would hit up the mulberry tree [instead of more cups of java (no CS pun intended)]. It felt too fun and carefree to be true, devouring berries right off the tree like there’s no tomorrow, getting our faces red and purple with juice like kids, and more and more random people joining us each time we went. But it was true!
This cake captures the flavors of the beginning of the summer. It is moist and fluffy and very, very lemony – and it is seriously a breeze to make. I made it with mulberries, but I am pretty sure it can be made with any other berry (or even stone fruits, cut into pieces). The one shown here is gluten-free (using lupin flour), but I also made it using whole-wheat flour and it turned out great. I did use more sugar than I normally like to, but I conveniently blame the mulberries – they are delicious as the only (currently ripe) fruit on campus, but compared to other fruit like raspberries, cherries, or even strawberries, they kind of lack in flavor (maybe it’s the specific tree we were picking from – I will let you know as soon as I harvest another one). If making it with very flavorful fruits, I would try cutting down the sugar (by as much as half!)
The recipe is (very) loosely based on a recipe by Danit Solomon.
Mulberry-Lemon Summer Cake:
Estimated Time: 15 minutes prep + 50 minutes bake
Kosher Classification: Neutral
3 cups ripe mulberries
1 cup almond meal
1/3 cup flour (I used lupin flour for a GF option but whole wheat works, too)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs potato starch
A generous handful of sliced almonds
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar (I used light brown)
3 Tbs ground flax
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to just over medium heat (which is 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit). Start off by whisking together all of the dry ingredients EXCEPT for the mulberries. Save some almond meal on the side (3-4 teaspoons will be enough) for reasons which will be specified later (oh, the suspense).
In a separate bowl, mix the ground flax with 9 Tbs of hot water. If you’re too lazy to count 9 tablespoons, it is equivalent to a bit less than 1 cup.
Let the flax mixture gel up a bit, and then add the lemon zest, vanilla, sugar, and oil. Whisk well until a thick gel forms.
Dump the bowl of dry ingredients right into the wet mixture, pour the lemon juice on top of it, and whisk well until everything turns into a thick batter.
Lightly oil a 9 inch (24 centimeter) round tart pan, and sprinkle the reserved almond meal on top, as evenly as you can. This acts kind of like a gluten-free “Pam” spray.
Pour the batter into the pan, and then distribute the mulberries evenly on the surface. Press them into the batter with your hands to sink them in as much as possible (careful, the batter will rise up. Don’t worry – it’s just physics).
Bake for 20 minutes. Then take out the cake and, working quickly so that it won’t cool down too much, sprinkle the sliced almonds on top in an even layer.
Put the cake back in the oven for 25-30 additional minutes, until the center of the cake is rather firm to the (gentle) touch.
Let cool and enjoy room temperature or cooler. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
- Preheat oven to just over 180 degrees Celsius (=350 Fahrenheit). Whisk together all the dry ingredients except the mulberries and sliced almonds (1/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 Tbs potato starch, 1 cup almond meal, 1/3 cup flour). Reserve a bit of the almond meal for dusting the baking pan.
- In a different bowl, mix 3 Tbs ground flax with 9 Tbs hot water, and wait for it to gel.
- Whisk 1/4 cup oil into the flax mixture and whisk well.
- Add 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and zest from one lemon to the wet mixture and whisk well.
- Dump the dry mix into the wet mix, pour juice of one lemon over it, and whisk well.
- Lightly oil a 9-inch (24 cm) tart pan and sprinkle the almond meal you saved evenly.
- Pour batter into the pan and press in 3 cups mulberries, washed and dried.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle a generous handful of sliced almonds evenly on top and return to oven for an additional 25-30 minutes.
- The cake is ready when the center is stable when lightly touched.
- Let cool and serve at room temperature or colder.