Bye-bye berries

Cynthia Stone
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As the sun hangs lower in the sky we desperately cling to these last few warm days, and lengthen the season as best we can in our kitchens.

I stretch the berries until it’s time for Thanksgiving turkey, and you do, too, because I’m accosted every day for more recipes using our wonderful local blueberries and partridgeberries.

Partridgeberry Molasses Cake with Whisky Sauce

The dark, sweet crumb of this cake is a natural foil for the tart sting of the partridgeberries. Serve this plain with coffee for brunch or add the sauce and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream for a special fall dessert.

If you aren’t a whisky fan then substitute brandy or even rum.

Melted butter won’t quite work in this recipe, but neither will firm butter. If you forget to take the butter out of the fridge early, or if your kitchen is too cold, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds on the lowest power possible. Watch it carefully and at the first sign of melting, take it out and stir it up to give you creamy soft, but unmelted, butter.

If you use salted butter or margarine reduce the salt by half, to a quarter teaspoon.

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. each allspice and cardamom

1/2 cup molasses

2 tsp. lemon juice

5 tbsp. whole or 2% milk, divided (not skim)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp. vanilla

3 tbsp. soft unsalted butter

1 cup fresh or frozen, unthawed partridgeberries

Whisky Sauce:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (no other)

1/4 cup whisky, divided

1 egg

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Whisk or sift together one cup of the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice and cardamom. In a separate bowl, whisk together molasses, lemon juice, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the molasses mixture all at once to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Stir in soft butter, but don’t beat the mixture vigorously at this stage.

Toss partridgeberries with remaining two tbsp. flour to coat the berries completely. Shake them in a strainer to get rid of excess flour then fold them into the batter.

Pour batter into a well-greased and floured nine-inch cake pan and bake at

350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the sides of the cake start to pull away and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Serve warm right out of the pan or wait 10 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and cool completely.

For the whisky sauce, melt butter in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Cool slightly then whisk in half the whisky (two tbsp.), egg and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in remaining whisky and vanilla and serve immediately over cake.

Orange Partridgeberry Baked Pudding

Yes, this recipe is evil. It pretty much packs as many fat and sugar calories into a single dish as is humanly possible, but if you’re celebrating a special occasion and want to serve up the most decadent, elegant and delicious local treat, this has to be it.

A sprinkle of powdered sugar is plenty to make this a beautiful dessert, but go right over the top by serving it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to eight important people.

6 cups day-old croissants, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) partridgeberries, divided

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

1 8-oz. package soft cream cheese

6 eggs

4 tsp. vanilla

1 orange, zest and juice

2 cups whipping cream

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, fresh if possible

2 tbsp. soft butter

Layer croissants pieces evenly in a well-greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle about half the partridgeberries over the croissants. Mash two tbsp. of the sugar into the cream cheese and drop small bits all over the berries. Sprinkle remaining partridgeberries evenly over cream cheese blobs.

Beat eggs until foamy. Beat in remaining one cup sugar, vanilla, orange juice and zest, whipping cream, milk and nutmeg. Pour over croissant and berry mixture in baking dish. Pinch off little bits of butter and scatter over the top. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees F 50 to 60 minutes or until top is golden and pudding doesn’t jiggle when you shake the pan.

Blueberry Bran Muffins

I’m still bitter that the local coffee shop I frequent on the way to work did away with blueberry bran muffins. For some unfathomable reason they thought it necessary to mix in cranberries, which, while adding a welcome touch of tartness, obliterated the delicate blueberry flavour.

They forced me to come up with my own version and this is it. I have to say, these are better than bought and not much more work.

This recipe makes 12 regular muffins.

1-1/2 cups 100 per cent wheat bran cereal (I use All-Bran.)

1 cup plain regular or low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp. vanilla

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Stir together bran cereal, yogurt, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir liquid ingredients into dry, mixing just until there are no large white streaks. Fold in blueberries and divide among 12 medium muffin cups that have been coated with non-stick cooking spray or lined with paper cups.

Bake at 400 degrees F 20 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in

St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o

The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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