Blackberry Lemon Almond “Snackin’ Cake”

Just lightly place the berries on top of the uncooked batter, and the cake will rise to the occasion!

When I was a kid, the United States had already been in the convenience phase of its existence for more than a decade, and it seemed like every day some new and different “space age” food or drink product was on the grocery store shelves. Just “mix and stir,” add the “flavor pouch,” “just add water,” or “just open the pouch and stick in a straw” was the name of the food game. The space-friendly powdered beverage “Tang” was wildly popular, as was any food item in a pouch that was similar to what the astronauts would eat or drink.

Have a blast…from the past!

And let’s not forget the T.V. Dinner. (Though some of us in Atlanta will remember a nightclub by the same name…or will we?) We all grew up with those ubiquitous aluminum sectioned trays that were popped into the oven, and when they came out a few minutes later, you peeled off the foil to reveal a wonderful, tasty (or not) meal of salsbury steak, apple cobbler, corn and string beans. Later on, they made more kid-oriented T.V. Dinners geared around favorite cartoons and T.V. shows, with fish sticks or chicken fingers and chocolate pudding. (I’ll confess, I did like those kid ones at the time.) But I digress…

One of these quick wonders was called a “Snackin’ Cake.” Honestly, I don’t remember exactly how easy it was to make a Snackin’ Cake or what they tasted like, but I think most of them were made by just adding water, an egg, and the mix into the supplied square pan, bake it, then top with the supplied package of frosting. Kind of like an adult-sized version of the “Easy Bake Oven” mixes. They had a cult following. But what I remember most is that they were square, and you were to cut them into square pieces, and have them as an after school snack or a dessert.

Fast forward to today, and we still rely a bit too heavily on convenience. But I hope we’re starting to realize that just because something is made “from scratch” doesn’t have to mean it’s hard to make. Au contraire. And, even though I don’t bake very often…mainly because I’ll eat it if I make it…I do like to bake quick and easy things now and then.

About a week ago, I saw a sale on blackberries in the market, and of course, I had to jump and buy some. First, I made the original peach and berry crumble that you can see here, which was easy and delicious. However, I still had some of these fine blackberries left. Sure. I could just EAT them, but where’s the fun in that? So I decided to try my hand at creating a cake by just putting things together and seeing if it would work. Yikes! Not the best way to approach the science of baking, I’ll admit.

But much to my surprise, it worked out really, really well, and it came out moist, flavorful and delicious. And better yet, I’ve made another one since then and it did, too! This cake combines the flavors of blackberry and lemon—which are just made for each other in my opinion—with the underlying tang (no pun intended) of yogurt and the mellow richness of almonds. It has a lovely texture from the almond meal…somewhat of a cross between a cake and a quick bread. It really needs no adornment, but you could certainly serve it with creme fraiche or ice cream. I baked it in a square pan, so once it came out of the oven, I started looking at it and you know what it reminded me of? A Snackin’ Cake! And hence the intro of this post. But this is not one of those somewhat prefab wonders of yesteryear. No sirree, this is a new, modern, bona fide, healthier and delicious, real homemade snackin’ cake…one for the 21st Century!

Now I think I may be on a roll with this snackin’ cake idea. I’m envisioning this very cake with strawberries, or cherries, or peaches…and that’s before adding any chocolate or booze! I’m starting to really like this baking thing again.

I think I’m in trouble now.

Blackberry, Lemon and Almond Snack Cake

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole, raw, skin-on almonds, ground to a fine meal in the processor
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup milk (1 or 2% milk is fine)
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square or circular cake pan.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest, stirring with a spoon to combine well. Cut in the cold butter in small pieces, then use your hands to combine it with the dry ingredients until only very small pea-sized pieces of butter remain, and it is well integrated with the dry mix. In a small bowl, combine the milk, yogurt and lemon juice with a whisk until well mixed. Add the egg to the wet ingredients and whisk just to incorporate. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is moistened well, but don’t over stir. Add the vanilla extract and stir to incorporate. The batter will be thick.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the top of the batter, then set the berries on top of the batter (no need to press them) in a decorative pattern. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 22-24 minutes, watching closely. The cake is done when it is golden brown on top, firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and finish cooling on the rack. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into 9 equal pieces. This is great by itself, but you could also serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

Did I mention this is great for breakfast, too?

 

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52 thoughts on “Blackberry Lemon Almond “Snackin’ Cake”

  1. We never had TV dinners. My Mom was mainly home made type of lady. But in my early years as an adult, I did have a few lean cuisines which I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole now! And Tang, our European relatives used to ask us to bring it for them. We never had it either.
    I love this cake; we have a similar recipe for a Hungarian Cherry Cake which is dotted with sour cherries and so delicious. What a lovely plate too.

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    • Thank you, Eva! My mom always cooked when I was a kid, and I remember all kinds of things like cassoulet and Mexican chocolate souffle. But as a little kid, when the TV dinners first arrived, everyone thought they were pretty hip! I usually only got to have one when they were going out at night to a party and I had a babysitter. I remember people making something called Russian Tea out of Tang and Lemon flavored NesTea!

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  2. “Just eating” blackberries is one of my favorite things about summer and fall. I like to pick ’em, too — they grow wild all over California: in fact my favorite way to eat them is right off the bush, warmed from the sun. But I digress. Old-style TV dinners took 45 minutes in the oven. Our favorites were the Mexican ones (We did not get them very often in our salad, starch, two vegetables, meat and dessert household). Nice flavors in your snackin’ cake.

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    • I wish I could get my hands on more blackberries. We used to pick them when I was a kid and they grew wild in Alabama…and sun warmed is ideal. I do love to “just” eat them now, and I had to “get rid of” a handful when I was making this cake! 🙂 Yes, I believe most frozen things still do take about 45 minutes in the oven, but that was pretty quick back in the day for a whole dinner! As to my frequency of eating those dinners, see my note to Eva above. They were actually kind of a special treat. Thanks, Sharyn!

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  3. I remember Tang and I didn’t like it. I remember TV dinners and I had a few of those. It was like eating airline food in the way that everything came in little compartments. I love the look of your blackberry tart. That’s so summery and gorgeous looking. It would be delicious with a dollop of cream xx

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    • Indeed, a dollop of whipped cream would be good on this! I keep thinking, that, but it’s so good by itself…and we did try it with ice cream…but keep coming back to it just plain. It’s all good. I didn’t like Tang either. And the thought of eating a TV dinner now makes me gag, but at the time, it was novel. And so it goes, I guess! 🙂

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    • I love cake period…but don’t dare make an iced one, much less any other kind too often….because I will eat it. But now I’m trying to think of ways to make smaller scale desserty things that you can have a piece, and there isn’t a whole huge cake or 4 dozen other cookies staring you in the face, if you know what I mean! 😉 Guess that’s having my cake and eating it, too?

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  4. This cake looks delicious, Betsy. I give you credit for coming up with the recipe. It is so not within my skill set to do anything but what a baking recipe dictates. I could never add something and expect the end result to be even remotely edible. I’m just not a baker and really admire people like yourself. Maybe I should drink a glass of Tang before my next baking project. If it was good enough for John Glenn …

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    • Thank you, John…those are very kind words…very kind indeed, because I’ve gotten lucky on two baking experiments. But I will confess, this worked quite well as I’ve stated it, but I tried another variation, which involved adding more fruit into the same batter, and it failed miserably. The extra moisture from the fruit, disrupted the batter so it wouldn’t cook, resulting in a gooey mess. And therein lies my weakness…I haven’t studied the chemistry of baking. However, I did recently check out the book Mastering the Art of Baking and Pastry by the CIA, because my husband has now decided he wants me to bake more. Now there’s real pressure! Maybe it’s ME that needs that glass of Tang! 🙂

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    • Thanks Fati, and I agree. I’ve really tried to concentrate on getting some nutritious benefits from desserts when I make them. There’s no reason NOT to, I think…except every now and then you just need some pure sugar! 😉

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  5. This really does look great, and I love the idea of the almond flour that you ground up.. very good.. did you really eat this fpr breakfast, i thought only i did stuff like that! c

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    • oh yes…a perfect little pastry for breakfast! I like to have the occasional not so sweet dessert for breakfast…what can be wrong with that? and we’ve restrained ourselves enough to take a final piece each for a picnic in the mountains tomorrow. 🙂

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  6. We don’t get black berries here but I think this would be heavenly with peaches.
    I remember the day when it was really cool to have a meal ready in minutes but then one didn’t think of preservatives and additives . I think we are more aware of what we eat nowadays

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    • I agree on both counts Sawsan. Peaches would be great in this, or cherries…which I just happened to get today on sale! 😉 And I agree that we are more aware of what made those foods convenient…and was ruining our health…these days and are hopefully correcting it!

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    • Hi there and welcome, flecks of green, thanks for visiting and commenting! I do think that blackberries and lemon were made for each other. That combo is pretty awesome with fish and with chicken, too. And now I must come and visit you and see what you’re up to! 🙂

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  7. I love this post. I grew up in Maine but I remember all those things. Those of us “of a certain age” remember the beginnings of the convenience society. Love this cake!

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    • Hi Maureen, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post…and yes, a certain age, ahem, remembers these things. How cool that you grew up in Maine, one of my favorite states. And just now, at long last, I’ve been able to subscribe to you so I can follow. I tried so many times and it wouldn’t work, but see that you’ve changed your email set up, and finally I’m a subscriber…yay! Now if WP would just allow easy recipe…oh well. 🙂

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  8. Even though I am of that certain age, can you believe I never had a TV dinner, never tasted tang and have no idea what a snacking cake is?
    Congratulations on a successful creation, your snack cake is gorgeous, wish I had baking talent.

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  9. “Put some things together and see if it works” seems to have worked great. It only takes a few minutes longer to measure ingredients than opening a box. The good news is that there aren’t any ingredients that you can’t pronounce in your recipe like on the list of ingredients on a box.

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  10. I’ve only just discovered your blog. Great cake, soo tasty looking. The berries still look really plump and juicy even though they’ve been cooked. GG

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    • Hi Glamorous Glutton, and thank you for visiting me. The berries pretty much stayed plump and juicy, that’s for sure. I guess because they stay rather dry on top. I’m so glad you liked the cake and thank you for commenting. Please come back and visit, and let me know if you get a site up! 🙂

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  11. Betsy, I was just thinking that I have a bag of cherries in my fridge and I don’t want to make yet another cherry cobbler. You’ve saved researching a new baking idea for my cherries, as your “snackin’ cake” looks mighty good. The girls are going to love you, I tell you that right now! I’m afraid I’m of the vintage that I know exactly the cake you are talking about — I remember a version with walnuts in it. I also remember boil in a foil lasagna, which my mom bought more often than I care to remember now. Good times, yes good times.

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    • Hey Barb, I now have a super large bag of cherries in my fridge and am working on a new experiment…this time frozen, I think! I hope the cake works out for you if you make it…I have made it once with cherries and it was good. But I will tell you that you can’t mix fruit into this batter…it will make it too moist and it won’t cook properly I got clever and found that out the hard way the third time I made it. Just lay the cherries or berries on the top and don’t press them. I remember that boil bag lasagna…had managed to block that one out, LOL!

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  12. Oh I’d love to snack on your cake ! And I’m loving the flavours of almond and lemon, not to cakey for me. Another recipe to bookmark to try very soon – ou rblackberry season is around the corner 🙂

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  13. Oh yes I remember the days of growing up and having tv dinners as a “special treat.” Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and a mystery chocolate brownie. Would have been much better with this for dessert…and add the booze, add the booze!!!! 🙂

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  14. Love the sounds of this “snackin'” cake Betsy! Great list of ingredients and just the sort of thing I’d want to grab a slice of when something sweet is “needed.” (You know those times!) 🙂

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  15. Pingback: Longer Days, Lighter Meals and a Little Anniversary! | bits and breadcrumbs

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