Worth the Scratches

We've been picking blackberries for the past couple of weeks.  There is a large patch of the thorny canes along our fence with the neighboring cow pasture and they have been producing beautiful ripe blackberries for a few weeks now.

If you have ever picked blackberries, you know it requires some preparation in wearing appropriate clothes and making yourself as "chigger-proof" as possible.  I always end up snagging my clothes on the heavily thorned canes as well as getting my hands all scratched up.  Even though I stuffed my pants leg in my socks and sprayed myself with repellent, I managed to still get a fair number of chiggers.

Blackberries are probably my favorite berry.  It seems to me that their flavor is so much stronger than any other type of berry.

So...what to do with all those blackberries.  I used some of them to add to low-fat vanilla yogurt and some to add to pancake batter.  I think I will use some to add to my cereal muffins (made with Fiber One).  I saw someone on a cooking show the other day (I think Pioneer Woman), make blackberry butter.  She took softened butter, mixed blackberries into it and then froze it till needed for pancakes, toast, etc.

I did make a "cobbler" the other night.  I use that term loosely because it is not the traditional cobbler I grew up with - with pie crust like dough.  This is a very easy cobbler recipe I found in a Southern Living magazine.    

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place 4 cups frozen blackberries in a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.
Stir together 1 large egg, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup all-purpose flour in a bowl until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Sprinkle over fruit.  Drizzle 6 Tbsp. melted butter over topping.  Bake 40-45 min. until lightly browned and bubbly.

*4 cups frozen mixed berries may be substituted
Fresh fruit can be used (decrease baking time 5-10 min)


Rainbow Cakes

Rainbow Cakes

I recently made a rainbow cake for a cute little girl's birthday and I took some pictures of the process along the way.  In case you haven't seen one of the thousands of rainbow cake tutorials already on the internet, here is mine.

Tie-Dye Rainbow Cake

This cake was a sheet cake done in the "tie-dye" style of rainbow with a half-round on top done in the "Martha Stewart" style of rainbow cake.  For the sheet cake, I first filled my pan with water up to the point I would usually fill with cake batter.  Then I poured that into a measuring cup to know exactly how much batter I would need.  Since I was using 6 colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple), I calculated how much batter of each color I would need.

Instead of dividing the batter into equal portions, I used more for the bottom 2 and less for the top 2 with the middle 2 being somewhere in between.  Reason for this is that the bottom layers will spread out more and become thinner as shown in the following pics:
              Just take your first color and pour into the middle of your pan. Let it spread a little then add your second color right on top of it.  Then continue with the rest.  The colors underneath will continue to spread as you pour each successive color on top.

That's it-then just bake as you normally would.

Layered Rainbow Cake

For the Martha Stewart layered style rainbow cake, I divided the colored batter into 6 equal portions.  I baked each layer separately in the round cake pan.  The layers will be skinny (short) because you are only using a fraction of the batter for each "layer" that you normally would use.  Here is what the layers look like once out of the oven and cooling on a sheet pan:  

Once they have cooled, stack with frosting between each layer.

The birthday girl's mom sent me a pic of the cake once it was cut, so here you can see what the sheet cake part looked like:

Give one of these rainbow techniques a try sometime when you want to create a bit more colorful cake.  Note:  I used Wilton's paste colors (not liquid food color).  You can find these now at most Walmarts. You can also get them at Michaels.