Monday, August 23, 2010

RHC: Marionberry Shortcake

Blackberry ShortcakeOr not Marionberry, but Blackberry Shortcake. I've never seen marionberries in a store, fresh or frozen, though admittedly I never was looking for them specifically until this week. Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger, and the large farmer's market had no marionberries. Perhaps the line "available in supermarket frozen food sections across the country throughout the year" doesn't apply to Atlanta. Or maybe all the marionberries have been snapped up by other shoppers before I got there.

Failing to find frozen (or fresh) marionberries led me to my mistake-of-the-week: I forgot the explanation in the recipe introduction that only marionberries retain their texture after freezing, so only fresh berries should be used as a substitute. I bought frozen blackberries, and that was not a great choice. I should have checked out the fresh berries and gotten whatever was nice and flavorful.

The "shortcake" is actually a génoise baked in individual maryann pans. My maryann pan is a vintage affair taken from my parents' house years ago, and I do like having a chance to use it. The cakelets have a little depression on top to hold the berries for a shortcake--nice enough, but I really prefer a biscuit-style shortcake like the Buttermilk-Almond Biscuits from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts. I'm more looking forward to the RHC recipe that fills that little depression with chocolate.

Here's how the Marionberry/Blackberry Shortcake comes together: the génoise cakelets, made with browned butter, are baked and cooled. The frozen berries are tossed with sugar and defrosted to get a syrup. The cakelets are brushed with the syrup, then the berries are piled on top. The whole affair is topped with lightly sweetened and whipped crème fraîche.

Tasting results: Sister-in-law gave it a pass as too much sugar. Younger niece and the nephew tasted the crème fraîche separately and opted for the cake and berries without it, then found the results too sweet. Niece also really disliked the way the frozen blackberries had broken down in the sugaring and defrosting steps, and thought the results were like jam. My brother and I and older niece all had the version with crème fraîche, and found it not too sweet at all--the crème fraîche gave just the right tang to offset the sweet berries and cake. I'd certainly have preferred to have more texture in the berries, but now that I've realized my mistake, I can make the recipe with fresh seasonal berries. Or maybe those elusive marionberries will show up in the freezer case sometime.

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  1. I so love your vintage pan! It makes wonderful shaped cakes. Blackberry style jam sounds good to me on these cakes! Try this link with your zip code to see if frozen marionberries are in your area.

  2. Love your pan; I'm so glad you had a chance to use it.

  3. Ya..i'm with the rest, i love your pan too! your cake looks delicious with that dollop of cream on top!