This Blackberry Blood Orange Breakfast Cake is a summery twist on an Italian classic. Juicy blackberries and hints of tangy blood orange give this lightly sweet yogurt cake plenty of personality to accompany your morning coffee.
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I'm so excited about this recipe for so many reasons.
In 2016, I traveled with my husband, bonus parents and bonus sister to Italy. It was incredible, and I'm pretty sure I belong there. Yes, I know it's one of the most overly-romanticized places on Earth. Yes, I know there are problems there too—I watch Last Week Tonight. But really, I've spent so much time since trying to replicate the feeling of being there at home.
This cake feels like Tuscany. The flavor and texture. The ingredients. The simplicity. Everything.
It was inspired by a traditional yogurt and olive oil cake made in the medieval hill town of San Gimignano in the Siena, Tuscany region of Italy. Torta allo yogurt is a classic. Don't be afraid of the olive oil. You won't taste it in this recipe any more than you would taste the flavor of canola oil, and it's incredibly common in Italian baking, which is all about what's available locally.
Part of the reason this dessert caught my eye is that the first variation of this recipe I saw in A Family Farm In Tuscany: Recipes and Stories from Fattoria Poggio Alloro by Sarah Fioroni (about a farm near where we took an agrotourism excursion) is so simple that it uses a yogurt cup as a form of measurement for the flour, oil and sugar. I just love that.
I chose not to do that here because packaging can be so different here in the U.S. and I personally buy it in bulk, but the sentiment is pretty beautiful. It honors the idea that baking is about ratios, but it's also rustic. It's the kind of thing my Ya-ya would teach me to do.
Making it seasonal
Yogurt and olive oil cake is also practical because it uses ingredients most people who cook regularly will already have on hand, and you can add any seasonal touches you may have. In winter you could totally make it a cranberry or rosemary orange cake. Spring? Hello, lavender and honey. Fall? Cinnamon spice sounds good!
My version, blackberry blood orange breakfast cake, plays up some of my favorite fresh flavors of summer. I've been very into blood oranges lately. Partially because they have folate in them which is good for pregnancy, and partially because they are DELICIOUS. They're a little more tart than regular oranges, and I personally think they're more flavorful in general.
It doesn't hurt that they're gorgeous, either.
As for the blackberries, I have never not been into those juicy little summer candies. They're wild and beautiful, tart then sweet. A little seedy, but in a good way. Blackberry is one of my go-to flavors, whether for preserves, compote, flavored water or sweets—but honestly none of that can compare to a gooey, just overripe blackberry baked into this cake.
Blackberries are also rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which give them their dark, jammy color. The science on just how beneficial those phytochemicals are is a little shaky, but loading up can't hurt right? They're also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and too many blackberries is probably better than other foods that tout polyphenols like olive oil and red wine, right?
This cake isn't super fluffy like your typical dessert cake. It's on the firmer side and light, like so many great Italian treats. Think about crunchy biscotti soaking up your cappuccino, or chewy ciabatta drenched in olive oil and dried herbs. It's incredible with coffee or tea in the morning, but don’t rule it out for dessert.
Plus, it's beautiful. I didn't even work all that hard to arrange the fruit on top and look at it. I know this is almost the same as the main shot above, but seriously. STRIKE A POSE, CAKE.
Just like that. STRIKE IT.
Baking the cake
Making it is simple too. Totally beginner-level. If you are a true beginner, there's one place I really want you to pay attention, and that's when you're beating the eggs and sugar. If you just do it quickly like with a lot of typical cake recipes, you're not going to get the volume you need. You really do want to let it go about five minutes or until it doubles in and looks creamy-yellow and foamy, like the photo below.
Sweetening the deal
I love serving this cake with whipped cream. Even better? Blood orange whipped cream! It only takes a few minutes and one extra ingredient to whip up, and you're already zesting oranges, so it's honestly crazy not to. Besides, if you've never made whipped cream, learning how allows you to level-up approximately 1,000 desserts.
Just do it, okay?
Seriously, I hope you make this and I hope you love it as much as we do over here! If you do, let me know by sharing a photo with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen and tagging me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. You can also use the "tried it" feature on Pinterest to help out others looking for a tasty seasonal cake!
Let's get baking!