Monday, May 26, 2008

'tis the season for Mulberries

I have a totally romantic relationship with the mulberry, thanks again to Alice Waters. My friend Casey and I start fantasizing about them on the first warm day of the year. Mulberries woo us early on with their promise of summer, and then deliver close to Memorial Day weekend. Mulberries definitely have a wilder flavor than other berries, but that is part of the fun. Plus, anyone with a mulberry tree will be more than happy to share in the bounty. So, look around- I was surprised to find that I have one growing right across the alley from my house!

I have been playing with mulberries all week, and have come up with some fun recipes.

The first is a:
Mulberry Upside Down Cake

The best thing about this is that it is the kind of cake you can have for breakfast. You know, if you do that sort of thing...

1 3/4 cups flour
8 tablespoons butter, divided and cut into 1 tbs pieces
2 eggs
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
at least 2 cups (enough to cover the entire bottom of the skillet) fresh mulberries, stems removed.

-In mixer with paddle attachment, mix flour, first six tablespoons of butter, eggs, baking powder, sugar, salt, almond extract and milk to form a lumpy batter.
-Melt and combine the remaining two tablespoons of butter and brown sugar in cast iron skillet on low heat.
-When sugar and butter are melted, sprinkle in the well-drained fruit. Pour batter mixture on top so that all the fruit is covered.
-Bake in center of oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until center of cake test done. The sides will be brown.
-Remove skillet from oven and immediately invert the skillet onto platter by putting platter on top of the skillet and turning them both together.

Next is:
Mulberry and Toasted Almond Ice Cream

The quality of your ice cream comes from the quality of the cream. (Right?) I really like Trickling Springs Heavy Cream, which is available at Ellwood Thompsons.

4 cups fresh mulberries, stems removed
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 honey
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds


-Put all of the mulberries in a thin meshed sieve with a bowl underneath to catch the juice. With a rubber spatula, mash the berries until you release 1 cup of juice into the bowl.
-Wisk the mulberry juice, cream, honey, and extract until well combined and airy.
-Pour into ice cream maker, and proceed under maker's instructions, adding almonds in during last 5 minutes.

Note: I make this in two batches- there is slightly more than will fit into my tiny ice cream maker. Then I can share!

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