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I have this rather vague idea that popped into my head for a chocolate berry cake of some kind where the berries, pureed, go into the batter itself and form a large proportion of the ingredients.

Unfortunately, I lack the knowledge of how cakes 'work' to be able to figure out how to make this, and everyone I've talked to so far has never heard of anything like my idea.

Is such a cake feasible, and can anyone offer any suggestions on what such a cake might need, ingredients- and preparation-wise?

  • I cannot really give a full answer, but what I an say is: Berries will provide a LOT of liquid, so better take a solid fat, instead of oil, and cut out all other liquids. If you want to reduce flour, consider adding a banana. and make sure your balance sugar, chocolate and berries right -> depending on your choice of berry, you may need to balance their sourness with sugar, the amount will depend on your chocolate-choice. Sadly, I have no idea how to get the consistency of such a cake really cake-like... – Layna Jan 5 '15 at 9:31
  • As you can see from my answer, you'll notice that it's not a very simple project. If you want to try it out, by all means go for it, it will be fun. But if it's too much hassle, it's worth checking out this recipe: smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/06/…. I can confirm that it works great with chocolate ganache instead of the sugar icing. – rumtscho Jan 5 '15 at 11:29
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There is actually a well known Bundt cake that is blueberry puree swirled into the cake. The original isn't chocolate, but that wouldn't take more than some cocoa to cure. And there's no law that says you can't play with other types of berries.

It's an America's Test Kitchen recipe, so this is when I would normally say, "(sorry, paywalled)". Today however, the recipe Gods are smiling upon me. ATK (Cook's Illustrated) has allowed the recipe to be published online and available to even us mere mortals who have not yet paid their subscription fee this year.

So:

From Dispatch.com

Also, the ATK video is still not paywalled, but I expect that the change quickly as it's actually from last season (they don't charge for the current season). ATK

Cake:

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons grated

lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

Filling:

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons low- or no-sugar-needed fruit pectin

Pinch of salt

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 325 degrees. Heavily spray nonstick Bundt pan with baking spray and flour.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, lemon zest, juice and vanilla together in medium-size bowl.

Gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine in third bowl.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium and beat in half of eggs until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

Repeat with remaining eggs, scraping down bowl after incorporating. Reduce speed to low and add 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until just incorporated after each addition, about 5 seconds.

Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape down bowl, add remaining flour mixture and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with a rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside while preparing filling (batter will inflate a bit.)

Filling: Whisk sugar, pectin and salt together in a small saucepan.

Process blueberries in a blender until mostly smooth, about 1 minute.

Transfer 1/4 cup puree and lemon zest to saucepan with sugar mixture and stir to thoroughly combine.

Heat sugar-blueberry mixture over medium heat until just simmering, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar and pectin.

Transfer mixture to medium-size bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Add remaining puree and lemon juice to cooled mixture and whisk to combine. Let sit until slightly set, about 8 minutes.

Spoon half of batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Using back of spoon, create 1/2-inch-deep channel in center of batter. Spoon half of filling into channel.

Using butter knife or small offset spatula, thoroughly swirl filling into batter (there should be no large pockets of filling remaining). Repeat swirling step with remaining batter and filling.

Bake until top is golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 60 to 70 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto wire rack. Allow cake to cool for at least 3 hours before serving.

That may not be exactly what you're looking for, but it's a place to start.

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In English terms, you cannot make such a cake, but a quickbread. You may not know the distinction if English is not your native language, as it frequently isn't made in other cultures.

Baked goods need a very narrow ingredient ratio. If you change it, the character of the baked thing changes. If you already have a recipe, you can't just add pureed berries to it. You have to substitute an ingredient with similar role for them. As they are mostly water, you'll have to substitute the liquid. But most cakes have no liquid, or very small amounts only.

A batter with more liquid bakes into quickbread, which has a less fine texture than a cake. It's more like a muffin, but baked as a whole loaf. Most of them use some kind of fruit, but a fruit with somewhat thick puree, like banana or pumpkin. You can still substitute the fruit in a basic quickbread and use berries.

It still won't be that much, maybe 20% (we recently had a question about a base ratio). If you want more berry, you can also try replacing part of the fats. Traditionally, people on a low fat diet replace with applesauce. As long as you have enough pectin, you should be able to use cooked berry puree instead. And the pectin will also compensate for the lack of starch in berries. I wouldn't replace more than half the fat, if that much. It changes the texture in the end, making it even less cakelike.

You could try to use jam you already have, but it will be hard to adjust the sugar. It's better to cook your fresh puree with pectin and just enough sugar for the pectin to set, then reduce the recipe sugar by that much. Some berries are rich in pectin and won't need it added, like blueberries and gooseberries. Wait for it to cook to room temperature before you make the quickbread.

  • I think your autocomplete has gone wild. "More betty" is presumably "more berry", but I'm not sure what "fast" is. Fats? – Peter Taylor Jan 5 '15 at 9:47
  • Hmm, thanks. I'll try a prototype recipe and see how it works. – SoItBegins Jan 5 '15 at 9:52
  • The "moistly water" part made me think... perhaps cooking the berry-purree into a REALLY thick consistency or "dehydrating" in the oven (spread thinly, and dry at around 80°C until thick, but NOT solid yet) might help as well. certainly sounds like an interesting and tasty result might emerge, so 'd be happy to read about results :). – Layna Jan 5 '15 at 9:59
  • @Layna yes, partial dehydrating - not all the way to fruit leather- will help, and probably there will be no need for pectin when drying. But it's somewhat harder to get right for a beginner. – rumtscho Jan 5 '15 at 11:26
  • @PeterTaylor uff. I think I spent more time repairing the autocorrect damage than I saved by swyping. I must have missed those. – rumtscho Jan 5 '15 at 11:27

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