tea time and a blackberry cake

when i spent a semester in australia, i loved that i found myself in a country that was part of the british commonwealth — and therefore took its snack time seriously. afternoon tea wasn’t just the cup of tea itself, but a chance to sit down for an allotted rest time, and have a bite of something light and sweet with it: maybe some lamingtons, like we had that first day at university orientation; or a small stack of biscuits, as they offered every afternoon at the hostels we traveled around to.

afternoon tea is not a ritual here in the states (our closest equivalent is something i believe is called “3 o’clock slump”), but i think it should be. 

i can’t change my country’s food culture, but there’s no reason i can’t pick a social custom to import into my own life. and this blackberry cake is a perfect way to induct afternoon teatime into my day-to-day. it’s a light, springy cake and not too sweet, but plenty fruity in flavor thanks to just a few drops of raspberry extract

our days — and life in general — have a tendency to go by so fast and furious. it’s nice to pick a time to pause, and enjoy a little something sweet and soothing.

Blackberry Buttermilk Tea Cake
Adapted from the Amateur Gourmet

1 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar, divided
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ c. buttermilk, at room temperature
¼ tsp. raspberry extract
about 1 ¼ c. blackberries 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; then butter the paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Reserve 1 ½ tablespoon of the sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with the remaining amount of sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. At low speed, beat in the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; do not overbeat. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  5. Scatter the 1 ¼ cups of blackberries over the batter; lightly press them in. Sprinkle the reserved 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar over the cake. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out the cake and remove the paper. Turn the cake right side up and let cool completely. 
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