If you walk out our front door and take a right, the road quickly dead-ends into a street that climbs a steep hill, wide enough for only one car to pass, with houses on one side and a thick wall of trees and bushes on the other. A month or so ago, I noticed that many of those bushes were suddenly bearing not-yet-ripe berries. They were still small and pale, but I suspected that they were blackberries, which grow wild all over Seattle. A few warm weeks later, the berries have plumped and turned a deep, inky purple. They’re ripe, as they say, for the picking.
When we learned of our neighborhood’s annual block party, which was held a couple nights ago, I wondered what to bring to the party to share, and my mind quickly turned to those blackberries. I settled on a pound cake, and determined that I would thread a ribbon of blackberry puree throughout it.
After dinner the night before the party, I took a bowl and towel (I’ve learned that those berries are juicy!) down the street. As the late evening sun went golden, I filled up my bowl with fruit. The berries, once home, went into the food processor, where they whirred around with a couple spoonfuls of sugar. The violet mixture became smooth after a pass through a sieve.
The pound cake was pretty straightforward: whip the butter and sugar before mixing in the eggs and vanilla. Then, alternating between the two, add the dry ingredients and a bit of thick yogurt. Spoon half the batter into a loaf pan, before adding half the berry puree, and repeat. The next part is the best part: take a thin knife or offset spatula and drag it through the thick batter, tracing blackberry trails throughout the cake.
Once baked and cooled, I sliced the loaf into fat, berry-streaked slices, dusted with powdered sugar, and stacked them on a paper plate that we brought to the block party, where the sun went golden once again as it set over those blackberry bushes.
Blackberry-Swirl Pound Cake
Lightly Adapted from Everyday Food
Yield: 10 slices
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream, room temperature
powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. Pass the pureed mixture through a strainer and discard the seeds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt/sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.