Cake on wheels

With the early raspberries almost gone, and just a handful of ripe blackberries, there is not too much to harvest for sweet splurges right now. But I had set my mind on making a cake for my parents-in-law, and I wanted to use at least something from the garden.

So I settled on a lemon pie with blackberries only for garnish. The forgotten half-empty jar of English lemon marmalade in the fridge, for which I had tried to find a use (the parsimony mantra “do not waste food” was fed to me with the baby bottle) came extremely handy – it gave the top a nice shiny finish.

Yet looking at the cake now, I am starting to wonder if and how it will survive the five-hour car ride. At least I have the photo to show if it arrives all mush, and I can always make it again for on-site consumption – if my tasting panel likes it.

Lemon Cake with Blackberries


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup shortening, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup + 1 tablespoon cold water (as needed)


3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups milk

1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

3 egg yolks

Juice of 3 lemons (at least two of them organic)

Grated zest of 2 organic lemons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


24-30 blackberries

½ to 1 cup lemon marmalade

1. Mix flour, shortening and salt thoroughly in a bowl with a pastry blender. Add just enough water to hold the dough together in a firm ball.

2. Roll out the dough between two large pieces of wax paper to fit a 9-inch springform pan plus about a 1-inch edge.

3. Grease the springform pan and fit the dough into the pan. Even out the edge with a knife. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

4. Mix the cornstarch with a bit of the milk to a smooth consistency. Put the rest of the milk with the sugar in a double boiler. Beat the egg yolks and add them to the milk. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the milk and cook over boiling water until it thickens and coats a spoon, about 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly (you might wonder if that coating ever happens, but you know unmistakably when you’re there).

5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

6. Juice the lemons and chop the lemon zest of the two organic lemons very finely.

7. When the mixture thickens, stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and carefully transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set. If the crust gets dark but the filling is still too liquid, place a sheet of aluminum foil on top and bake a few minutes longer. But note that the filling will set more when it’s cold.

8. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely on a rack. Carefully run a knife along the edge and remove the rim of the pan.

9. Heat the lemon marmalade in a small saucepan and strain through a fine sieve. Brush a thin coat of marmalade on the cake.

10. Place the blackberries with their blossom ends down in a circle around the edge of the cake. Coat the blackberries and in-between the blackberries with marmalade. This works best with a small brush. If you have any marmalade left, brush the side of the cake. Refrigerate until serving.

Ice-cold resolution

Each time I make my berry frozen yogurt, I promise myself to use the ice-cream maker more often instead of lazily grabbing a pint of ice cream or sorbet in the store, which tastes overly sweet after eating this.

The most important ingredient is a good berry concentrate (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red and/or black currants if you have them). I cook the fruit for a few minutes until they pop and release all their juices, then strain them through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

It is important that all the ingredients are very well chilled before mixing them. Because homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt does not contain any stabilizer, it melts very quickly.

Berry Frozen Yogurt

1½ cups chilled unsweetened berry concentrate

½ cup heavy cream

2 cups sour cream

1 cup sugar

1. In a bowl mix all ingredients well with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves.

2. Process the frozen yogurt in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. I have an ice-cream maker whose bowl needs to be frozen so when it is warm in the kitchen, I carry the ice-cream maker down to the cooler basement. That prevents the bowl from warming up and improves the quality.

3. Fill frozen yogurt in plastic containers with tight lids and place them in the freezer until solidly frozen.

Makes 1 generous quart