Point in fact - the first glimpse of Mulberries.
The spread of Saturday farmers' markets through the suburbs has seen more unusual produce appearing before the public. I've not ever bought mulberries before but when one of my favourite stall-holders had these lovelies on offer, I couldn't resist. Just picked and ready to eat.
The main problem with mulberries is that they are awfully delicate and have a short shelf life - within a day or two you'd be throwing them away.
Time was of an essence to put these to their best use so I opted to adapt a rustic Italian cake by Ursula Ferrigno. It's pure simplicity - an all in one type of cake. There's no need to be creaming butter or whisking eggs. It's wonderfully crumbly and moist, with a delightful cinnamon scent that permeates each mouthful.
Mulberry and Cinnamon Cake
[Makes 1x8in/20cm cake]
140 grams softened unsalted butter, cut into small dice
140 grams caster sugar
140 grams ground almonds
140 grams self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
225 grams Mulberry (or your favourite berry)
icing sugar, to dust
Butter and flour and line the base of a square loose bottomed tin (you can also use a 23cm/9inch spring-form tin).
Prepare the Mulberries:
Rinse well under cold water then remove the stems. Dry on paper towels before placing in a small bowl. Sprinkle over with a spoonful of caster sugar, toss gently and set aside while you make the cake.
Make the cake batter:
Place the butter, sugar, almonds, flour, egg, cinnamon and vanilla into the bowl of a start mixer. Beat until smooth and well combined - about 3 to 5 minutes. Remember to stop and brush down the bowl midway to get a thorough mix.
Spread half the mixture into the base of the prepared tin - flatten it with the spatula.
Sprinkle over with the prepared mulberries, pushing them slightly into the batter.
Dot the cake with spoonfuls of the remaining batter - smooth over with a flat spatula - you want it to cover the berries.
Put the tin on a baking tray and cook in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 1 hour until golden and springy and cooked through when tested with a skewer. Check along the way to ensure it's not browning too quickly - if it is, cover with foil.
Let it cool in the tin - this is a crumbly cake especially when warm so it's important that it's left in the tin under cold enough to handle.
Sprinkle over with a light dusting of icing sugar before unmoulding.
The cake itself is cinnamon coloured inside - it has a large moist crumb, the crust has a slight crunch and the berries are a welcome treat, being sweet and succulent. A dollop of whipped pure cream would make a perfect accompaniment along with a good cup of coffee.