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Blackberry Hazelnut Cake | Adventures in the Pacific Northwest!

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Do you guys ever envision a day to be so magical and it turns out, well, just not? That’s exactly what happened here. I’ve wanted to visit a U-Pick farm for ages. I guess it’s really only been a few years–but it’s felt like a long time!! When we decided on Portland as one of our stops in the Pacific Northwest, I was so excited. Namely, for the berry picking on Sauvie Island. I envisioned picking basketfuls of strawberries blackberries raspberries and boysenberries, bringing them home and baking like I had a hundred potlucks and summer BBQs to attend.

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But then, we actually got to the farm. We had driven down from Seattle that morning, and were a little exhausted from trying to fit five people and five suitcases into a mid-size SUV. It was also hot. Like, extremely hot… 99° hot!!! Somehow I thought it would be a good idea to wear what Roy calls my farm-girl dress and Andrew & Nicole says makes me look like a mole woman (i.e. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). I had beads of sweat dripping down my face and was taking giant leaps instead of stepping gracefully through the orchard, trying my best not to get my dress snagged on all the brambles. When I saw my first blackberry, I eagerly (and stupidly) reached out for a handful and poked my hand on a family of tiny thorns. While we were picking, Nicole saw a snake and cut her leg on a bush. She later gave up on the whole thing after a bird pooped on her head. I’d probably do the same. I was a sweaty mess by the time we made it to the strawberry patch, only to discover that most of them had already been picked and we were left with some of the itty bitty-est strawberries I’ve ever seen. At least they were cute for being so tiny. NO ONE TELLS YOU THESE THINGS WILL HAPPEN.

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What surprised me was that I was barely even disappointed about my amazing summer berry picking adventure turning out to be much less “magical” than expected. We had so much fun laughing at ourselves and at some point I was too hot to even care about the farm’s slim pickings. I had a wonderful time, and they’ll be cherished memories regardless of whether or not they were perfect ones. OK, thanks for listening to my life lesson of the day 🙂

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So I’ve been wanting to make this cake for almost as long as I’ve wanted to go berry picking (but this one has an awesome ending!!). My experiences in baking within the last year have taught me there are some cakes that look good and taste great, and then there are the cakes that look so delicious they make your tummy rumble and you just need to eat it right now. I was looking for a recipe with figs on Pinterest and saw the most de-ee-licious cake ever. Unfortunately, it was the middle of fall and I couldn’t find any fresh figs. Wait, so why was I even looking up recipes with figs in the first place??? IDK. ANYWAYS. Bascially, the recipe sat in my Pinterest board for months and months, buried underneath other sweets and treats. It wasn’t long till I shamefully forgot about it… until recently when I came across this equally gorgeous cake when trying to get in the mood for a rustic blackberry cake. Blackberries and hazelnut were meant to be!!!

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And can you believe it?? This cake is gluten and dairy free and is delicious! Haaaaaallelujah! I want you all to know, this is quite seriously the best healthiest cake I’ve ever tried!!! I’m used to alternative flours and oils turning cakes dry and giving it a strange texture. But this one right here, in all honesty, is one of my favorite cakes yet. It’s sits in the perfect in-between of light and dense. It’s moist and nutty, and most importantly–it tastes so good.

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I’ve included a few photos below from our little vacay in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland! It’s been so nice to have a few weeks off from school and I feel like I can finally be a real human being again and do real human things like sleep in on Sundays and pick my clothes up off the floor. Roy and I are heading to Vegas for 4th of July weekend on Friday. We’re going to be doing normal young people things like going out at night to a big, dark, noisy room filled with inebriated, dancing humans and I’m kind of nervous because our crazy weekend nights usually consist of ice cream and Netflix (help). I should probably practice wearing makeup and dresses again because it’s been a long time since I’ve done either of those things. Wish me luck! *unce unce unce*

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Blackberry Hazelnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Dolly & Oatmeal and Call Me Cupcake
Recipe makes one 6-inch cake, two layers

for the cake:
○ 3/4 cup brown rice flour
○ 1/4 cup hazelnut meal (ground from whole toasted and shelled hazelnuts)
○ 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
○ 1/4 tsp salt
○ 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
○ 3/4 cup granulated sugar
○ 1/4 cup coconut oil (soft, not melted)
○ 2 eggs, room temperature
○ 1 tsp vanilla extract
○ 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
○ *1 cup fresh blackberries*

1. Toast a heaping 1/4 cup of whole hazelnuts at 350°F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before shelling. Transfer cooled hazelnuts to a food processor and grind to create a meal. Do not grind too much, or the hazelnuts will turn into a paste (hello, Nutella!).
2. Keep the oven preheated to 350°F. Grease and line two 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Dust the edges with a bit of brown rice flour. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, hazelnut meal, arrowroot powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together the granulated sugar and coconut oil until light and fluffy. Add in each egg one at a time, beating until fully combined between each addition. Add in the vanilla extract and almond milk. Mix for 30 seconds.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet in several additions. Mix until the batter is smooth and evenly combined.
5. Split the cake batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake the cake, otherwise it will lose its moistness. The top of the cake may seem slightly sticky even though it is fully baked.
6. Let cool inside the cake pan for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Cover each cake layer in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for an hour or up to one day.

for the frosting:
○ 150g butter, softened at room temperature
○ 180 – 200g (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
○ 200g cream cheese, cold (or substitute with vegan cream cheese)

1. Beat the softened butter until pale, about 2 minutes.
2. Pour in the sifted powdered sugar in two additions, beating for 1-2 minutes between each addition.
3. Add the cream cheese and beat just until smooth.

assembly:
→ Remove the cake layers from the fridge. Set the first layer down on your desired serving dish. Spread a thick layer of frosting on the cake. Cut 4 blackberries in half and space them out around the top of the frosting. Add a few more spoonfuls of frosting to cover up the blackberries.
→ Add the second cake layer on top of the frosting, pushing down gently till some of the frosting slightly comes out the side. Spread another layer of frosting onto the top of the cake, pushing the frosting past the circumference of the cake. Use your offset spatula to spread the frosting down the sides of the cake. Use the extra frosting in the bowl to cover up any naked patches. This is essentially only the crumb coat step of frosting a cake.
→ Chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes for the cream cheese frosting to thicken. Serve and cut with a sharp knife.

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About Courtney C.

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  • The cake looks amazing, and the vacay looks really fun!

  • too bad the berry picking wasn’t as magical as you wanted it to be, but it still sounds like it was a ton of fun! i’m in love with berries and cream cheese frosting and mini cakes, so this one might happen this weekend.

    • Oh yes! This cake is to die for. Tag me in a photo if you post it anywhere, I’d love to see it 🙂

  • Amazing recipe. Love the flavors. Stunning photos!

  • sounds a like a fun trip and that’s the main thing. What a wonderful cake it looks amazing. Ive never baked with brown rice flour before so maybe I will give it a try.

    • Thanks, Rebecca! That’s exactly what I was thinking.
      I’ve worked with brown rice flour before and haven’t had as amazing results as I did here. This cake is just magic!

  • This cake is stunning!! Love the looks of this!

  • Oh, way too cute! The cake, your story about berry picking and the realities (LOL), your photos from your trip – I love everything about this! I’m always in awe of your cake making skills <3. I still haven't attempted one yet O_O.

    • Thank you, Betty! I mean, I have yet to attempt that amazing vertical cake roll of yours. It makes this one look like a walk in the park! I’ll be waiting for a beautiful naked cake to pop up on Le Jus d’Orange someday! 😀 hehe

  • This cake looks phenomenal, Courtney! It definitely looks like the yummiest healthy cake, and I believe you when you say that it tastes so too! I’m sorry the berry picking didn’t go as planned, but you looked cute anyway! I’ve learned to just not plan that kind of stuff anymore because that kind of stuff used to happen to me all the time, or the experience just wasn’t as magical as I had envisioned it. Instead, going with the flow and being spontaneous always ends in laughs and good memories, just like you described! Thanks for sharing this beautiful cake and recipe; I look forward to trying it! XO

    • Thank you for the advice, Beeta! I’m kind of the worst at going with the flow at times haha. And you should definitely try this!!! It’s such a gorgeous cake.

  • Gorgeous photos! Looks like it was a lovely trip 🙂 And lovely cake as well, love the blackberry + hazelnut flavors! And you have truly mastered the naked cake style, it looks great 😀

  • So many things to say!

    1.) Your site is phenomenal. Like, damn. The photography, ah, everything!

    2.) My stomach is grumbling for this cake and it’s not even 9 a.m. and I’m equal parts mad at you / want to give you a hug.

    3.) Lol @ the terrible but also joyous berry picking adventure. I feel like it’s one of those things that always looks really cute when ethereal Tumblr girls do it, and then IRL it’s just kind of a mess. But I’m glad you had fun!

    4.) We just went to PDX, SEA, and YVR last month and did all of the things you did! This is making me miss it so much! Such gorgeous photos, too!

    • This entire comment made me smile whilst laughing in my head (trying not to look like an idiot in public!!)
      That is EXACTLY what I pictured pre-berry picking fiasco, which is probably why my hopes were so high….. There needs to be a meme for this.
      Glad you guys had an awesome trip too! Isn’t the PNW so beautiful? I wanna go back too!

  • As usual your photos are stunning! I’m sorry your berry-picking trip didn’t turn out to be as magical as you intended but it looks like everyone had a great time anyway! 🙂

    • Thanks Sam! It wasn’t exactly magical but I’d take laughs over that any day 🙂

  • What a gorgeous looking cake! It looks so perfect, and I love the blackberry and hazelnut flavors!! 🙂

  • LOL to the berry picking. I feel ya gurl but man, it looks like you got some good ones anyway. This cake though, woah, this cake though. AMAZEBALLS. And bonus lols to the mole women reference. Wishing I had a slice of this goodness, oh, right about, NOWW!!

    • Hehe thank you, Alana! I’m glad you liked the reference! I think my favorite part of the trip was looking like Kimmy Schmidt for a day 😀

  • amy

    i’m loving all your photos and especially the gifs on your blog! how cute! can’t believe you were just in vancouver. wish i found out about your blog earlier…we couldve done some crazy cake collab 😉

    amy

    • Hi Amy! Oh no, I wish we could’ve gotten together 🙁 but we could always do a virtual cake collaboration!!!

  • It is nice to see that you were able to see the glass half full after your berry picking adventure! This is a GORGEOUS cake and your photos are stunning! Pinning!

  • Really, this is such an amazingly gorgeous cake!! Nice work!