Berry Surprised

The big surprise at the farmer’s market this week was the berries.  The Pacific Northwest summer is stretching its legs.  Finally its ready to show off a bit.  Depending on where you stop the berry vendors have pints of boysenberries, marionberries, black cap raspberries, late season strawberries, blueberries, golden raspberries, and regular old red raspberries.

It’s hard to get them home from the market at all.  The just picked berries are ripe, fragrant, and juicy.  I bought one flat with boysenberries, marionberries, and blueberries on Friday night that was half consumed before reaching the car.  Today, to replenish our stock I got another flat.  This time with blackcap raspberries, strawberries and red raspberries.

Blackcaps, if you are not familiar with them, are smaller in size than their cousin the red raspberry.  They have a vampy violet hue.  Their flavor is sweet and slightly herbal.  They are wonderful eaten raw.  They would be equally delightful in a finished sauce for venison or quail with a bit of savory or thyme.

I don’t cook the boysenberries.  The bulbous,  delicate berries are reserved for snacking only.  They might make a lovely jam.  There are never enough hanging around to allocate them to a canning project.

The marrionberries are more akin to a blackberry.  These berries I did bake.  In my pantry laid a small bag with about 2 cups of polenta left in it.  I found a recipe for an almond polenta lemon cake, took the directions as a rough suggestion, and put the lingering polenta to use.

The recipe I used called for ground almonds.  I used almond flour instead.  I also folded the marrionberries in at the end. Thirty minutes later I had twelve mini cakes thanks to my muffin pan.   I like baking with polenta.  It adds a nice crunchy chew to the finished product.  The almond flour and butter gave the cakes a moist crumb.  The berries added sweetness and color.

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