Before I moved to Finland, my relationship with berries was restricted to summer holidays in Sinop.
Whenever we went to Sinop for holiday, we would visit my aunt (my father’s older sister) and some other relatives of my father living in countryside. With my siblings and sometimes also cousins, or whoever wanted to join (mostly young people though), we would go out for a walk by rocky village roads and green fields while my parents and other older people sat down, had their tea and talked. It wasn’t just any walk – the aim was to pick berries!
Which berries? Blackberries and cranberries, though I only picked blackberries because that was what I loved. We would pick some to take to our parents, but we would eat much more while walking, of course!
I also remember that massive mulberry tree in my aunt’s garden. I think it was the tree that my aunt, her sons/grandkids and sometimes also my dad sat underneath and lined up tobacco leaves coming from her tobacco fields. I don’t think she grows those leaves anymore. But I’m sure that tree is still there. My father would hold me up so that I could reach those yummy mulberries and pick them. Oh so sweet they were. And so huge! Or maybe I remember them huge because I was so small. In any case, I remember the taste still, and that tree made mulberries my favourite berries.
And then I came to Finland and only after I came here I learned that Finland is the land of berries! Not the ones I am used to though. It is the land of blueberries, raspberries, lingonberries and cloudberries (and other berries that I forgot?). And out of these, blueberries are my favourite, I can eat tons of them in one setting.
So this recipe is kind of a celebration of two berries that can be found in Finland. The freshness and moisture of the berries make this cake very light and sweet but not too sweet. And polenta adds a very nice, gritty texture as always. Even though in theory it can be made with frozen berries as well, I do not recommend that. The batter is slightly thick and when you try to fold in frozen berries in the batter, I think you would colour the batter a lot. Therefore fresh berries are much better. However, if colouring the cake batter is ok for you, then go ahead, use frozen berries! And enjoy your cake!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
(makes 1 cake in 24cm cake pan)
(recipe adapted from “Grains are good” book)
175 gr butter, softened to room temperature
225 gr light brown sugar
100 gr ricotta
zest of 2 lemons
175 gr polenta
100 gr almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
150 gr fresh blueberries
150 gr fresh raspberries
a handful of fresh blueberries
a handful of fresh raspberries
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 24cm cake pan and line the base with baking paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, put butter and light brown sugar and beat until it gets creamy.
3. Add ricotta and lemon zest and continue beating until it’s a smooth mixture.
4. Add eggs, one at a time. In between each egg you might want to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the eggs until you get a smooth mixture.
5. Add polenta, almond flour and baking powder and continue to beat until you get a smooth batter.
6. Fold in blueberries and raspberries gently – try not to break down the berries.
7. Transfer the batter into the cake pan, smooth the surface. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. When the cake is ready, take out of the oven and let it cool for at least 15 minutes before taking out of the cake pan. To serve, spread some powdered sugar on top and add some more fresh berries. Enjoy!