February 3rd, 2022
Yay for blackberry season! When I first moved to this property one of the first areas I developed in the garden was a large berry patch. We inherited about 15 heritage fruit trees with the property so adding berries seemed a natural progression. I came across 4 thornless blackberry plants at a local market stall, and not knowing much about them – but liking the idea of no prickles – I planted a row along the garden path, and hoped for the best.
I have made a few garden mistakes over my time learning to grow food in the backyard, but thankfully this wasn’t one of them. 12 years later the berries are still going strong with a steady supply of blackberries throughout February. And unlike wild blackberries (and the raspberries I have planted nearby) they don’t spread so vigorously so I can keep them contained to their own area.
These blackberries require little maintenance, and other than a thick layer of mulch added in spring and regular water to ensure the berries plump up, they are left to their own. Then in autumn, it is an easy and satisfying garden job to remove the fruited leaders back to the base of the plant and tie up the new growth for next season. I use short lengths of double-sided velcro to train the new leaders along wires we have stretched between waratahs to give them some structure and create an edge to the garden path. If you are looking for a productive, low maintenance berry – that fruits later than some other berries – thornless blackberries are a winner in my book.
Below I share a recipe that I enjoy making with our fresh (or frozen) blackberries – although any berry or summer fruit can be used. This ice cream cake is a crowd-pleaser for a celebration, which I seem to have a few on the calendar in the coming months. I have made this cake, or a variation of, numerous times for my children’s birthdays that fall in later summer and autumn. I hope you enjoy it too.
Berry & Frozen Yoghurt Ice Cream Cake
For the base:
- ⅔ cup (100g) dried dates, chopped
- 2 cups (240g) toasted muesli*
- 50 g melted butter
- Pinch of salt
For the frozen yoghurt layer:
- 2 cups fresh or frozen berries, thawed if needed
- ⅓ cup (80ml) mild honey or maple syrup
- 2 cups (500ml) Greek-style natural yoghurt (unsweetened)
- 250 g (ml) mascarpone or cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- *If you haven’t got toasted muesli use ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup desiccated coconut, ½ cup nuts, ½ cup seeds and 1 tsp cinnamon. Toast first in a dry frying pan until golden.
- Grease a 20cm spring-form cake tin and line with baking paper.
- Place the dates into a sieve and pour over 2 cups of boiling water to soften. Set the sieve over a bowl to drain for a few minutes.
- Place the toasted muesli into a food processor and blend until roughly ground. Leave some bigger pieces for crunch. Add the dates, melted butter and salt and blend again for 30 seconds until the mixture holds together when pressed.
- Tip the crumb into the cake tin and press evenly to cover the base. Place the tin into the freezer while preparing the ice cream layer. Wipe out the food processor. Add the berries and 2 tbsp of the honey or maple syrup. Blend until smooth.
- In a bowl whisk together the yoghurt, mascarpone (*see note below if using cream), remaining ¼ cup honey or maple syrup, and vanilla. Check the taste adding extra sweetener if needed - remember that once frozen the sweet flavour will become somewhat dulled so making it a little sweeter than usual is a good idea.
- Remove the cake tin from the freezer and pour over the yoghurt mixture. Drizzle over the berry puree in a spiral and use a skewer to swirl through the yoghurt. Freeze until solid, about 6 hours or overnight.
- To serve, remove the cake from the freezer and thaw for 15-20 minutes to soften. Loosen the sides of the tin then transfer the cake to a serving plate. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.
- Leftover cake can be stored in a covered container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.