You know living in the city has it’s ups and downs, the downs mainly being the noise, drunk students and their ability to project vomit in a perfect line all the way down London road, which – as you can imagine, is just lovely on your way to work on a monday morning. I will say it now and I will say it again, I don’t like living in the city, but it’s a necessity at the moment, the minute I get the opportunity to live out my days squirreled away in a clicky rural village full of farmers, roaming hills, middle-aged women riding retro bicycles with a basket on the front carrying a dog, and a pub that allows you to drink until you’re blind without being tutted at by hipsters and office harlots stereotypically re classifying you as a low life ne’er do well, then a happier man i’ll be.
That aside I was made happier this week for receiving a rather large glut of freshly picked blackberries from my girlfriends mum, who I have yet to meet. When I opened the round plastic tub I was immediately hit with the sweet smell of fresh berries, a smell that takes me back to being a boy and going blackberry picking with my Nan, who was and still is a stout woman with a heart of gold. She would make the classics such as apple and blackberry crumble, blackberry pie or maybe a fool, but I wanted to do something different.
Now is the time for these amazing fruits, as soon as october hits they go all bitter and unpleasant. So make the most of the time you have and do these berries the justice they deserve. This is actually a fairly easy cake to make, most of the time needed is leaving it to set in the fridge, so this is a great cake to make in advance for a special occasion. Enjoy, and thanks ‘mum’ for the berries.
You will need the following
- A sheet of thin plastic, the sort you get in stationery shops (I got mine from paperchase) Cut a strip about 3 inches wide then roll into a cylinder with a diameter of about 4-5 inches, then seal the end with a piece of tape. This will sit inside the cake tin to allow for the cheesecake and blackberry filling.
- A 20cm loose bottom deep cake tin
For the base:
- 200g digestive biscuits
- 100g unsalted butter
For the blackberry centre centre:
- 100g blackberries (plus same again put to one side left whole)
- 50g caster sugar
- 1-2 tbsp water
For the lemon cheesecake centre:
- 150g cream cheese
- 50ml double cream
- 50g icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice (taste and adjust as you go and add more if you want more lemon)
For the blackberry mousse:
- 5 sheets of gelatine
- 150ml single cream
- 500g fromage frais
- 160g caster sugar
- 300ml double cream
- 400g blackberries
- 200g caster sugar (use with the blackberries)
1. First thing is to make your biscuit base by melting the butter in a pan, then whizz up the digestive biscuits in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Combine the butter with the biscuit, then mix. Take your loose bottomed cake tin and fill with the biscuit base, press it down until evenly spread, make sure it’s pressed right to the edges to form a night snug fit. Place your plastic cylinder in the centre and bury it slighty into the base. leave to set in the fridge for about half an hour.
2. While the base is setting take the ingredients for the blackberry centre and simmer in a pan for a few minutes just until the berries start to soften, then drain off the liquid and mash the berries with a fork until you get a jammy consistency. Leave to cool slightly. Then make your lemon cheesecake filling by beating the cream cheese with the sugar, then add the double cream and mix until you have a soft velvety filling, it should look like whipped double cream, if it seems too thick add a little more cream. Lastly add the lemon juice.
3. Once the base is set take it out of the fridge and add the crushed blackberries inside the plastic ring, spread it evenly then add the whole berries that you put to one side on top of the crushed berries. Finally add the cheesecake mix on top of the berries, gently press down and spread evenly with a small teaspoon. Place back in the fridge to set the cheesecake, about an hour will do.
4. While the cheesecake sets you can make the mousse. Take the 400g of blackberries and place in a pan with 200g of caster sugar and a few tbsp of water, simmer on a low heat until the berries have gone really soft and broken up, strain through a sieve pushing all the juice through with the back of a spoon until you have a nice dark pip free blackberry liquid, leave to cool.
5. Next place the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, then heat up the single cream in a pan. When the cream reaches the boil take off the heat and add the gelatine sheets, mix until completely dissolved. Leave to cool at room temperature along with the blackberry juice.
6. Now in a large mixing bowl whisk together the fromage frais and the 160g caster sugar until combined, then add the cooled single cream and gelatine mixture to the bowl, mix and add the blackberry juice (you can reserve a little by for drizzling over the cake if you like). Lastly whip the double cream to soft peaks and fold into the mousse mix.
7. Take the chilled base out of the fridge and gently remove the plastic ring, the middle should stay upright on it’s own now. Gently pour over the mousse mixture until it completely covers the centre (don’t worry about the mix leaking, you may get a small amount leak from the bottom but not much, probably a tbsp worth). Place back in the fridge for at least 5 hours so the mousse can set.
Once set carefully remove the side of the cake tin, I recommend leaving the base on the tin bottom, it’s a very delicate cake and isn’t worth the risk trying to ease onto a cake stand or plate. Leave it on the tin base and transfer that onto a plate instead. The cake needs to be kept in the fridge to stop it from collapsing.