Friday 26 July 2013

Summer Pickin's Cake: Orange and Huckleberry With Oatmeal

I'll 'fess up:  This cake started out as a muffin and became a cake because I made a mistake while measuring the ingredients.  

It's true.  

But I'm awfully fond of it anyway.  

Every summer, my fella and I forage for berries. In late July and early August we pick wild huckleberries, which grow in abundance in the sun dappled shade at the edges of our forests.  

They are tiny berries and grow spread out on each bush. Picking them is a time consuming process, but they have a wonderful flavour - both sweet and tart at the same time - that makes gathering them worth the effort.

Last weekend, my fella and I picked about a gallon of huckleberries.  That's a lot of picking! I put most of them in the freezer but kept about a cup of them out to make muffins.  

I've used the same recipe for my huckleberry muffins for years and years, but I was distracted while measuring the ingredients and added more liquid to the batter than I usually do.  It looked looser than I like my muffin batter to be, so instead of spooning it into muffin cups, I poured it into a cake pan and adjusted the baking time to compensate both for the wetter batter and the greater volume.  

When my cake had cooled, I dressed it up with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting.

I offered my new cake to my fella with some trepidation.  It was much less sweet than a traditional cake and it had a slightly heavier texture, but I needn't have worried.  Neither of us are fans of very sweet cakes so we both enjoyed it very much.  

I think I'll make the recipe this way from now on.

To make Summer Pickin's Cake, you'll need:

  • 1 large navel orange
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk or whey (I use whey because I often have it left over from making yogurt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup quick cooking (not instant) oatmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup huckleberries (you can use blueberries too)

Using the fine side of your box grater or a microplane, grate the zest from the orange and set it aside.

Cut the orange in half and squeeze as much juice as you can from the orange into a 1-cup measure.  Add in enough whey or buttermilk to make 1 cup of liquid in total.

Combine the orange peel, orange juice mixture, egg, oil, and sugar in a large bowl and stir them until they're well mixed.
Add in the oatmeal and mix it through.  Let this mixture rest for 10 minutes.

While the oatmeal mixture is resting, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in another bowl.

Add the huckleberries to the flour mixture and use a fork to gently stir them through.

Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.

When the oatmeal mixture has rested for 10 minutes, add in the flour mixture and stir just until the two are combined.  The ingredients should be moistened but the batter still lumpy.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  

Place the cake pan on the center rack of a 350F oven.

Bake the cake for about 50 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched at the center.  A skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean.

 Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before turning it out and frosting it.  

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.