BLACKBERRIES are one of those universally-loved fruits because they are so accessible, growing wild on untouched hedgerows in fields and roadsides everywhere, and I want to share our highly adaptable recipe for scrumptious blackberry buns.
This glossy black fruit, otherwise known as rubus fruticosus in Latin, or sméara dubha to every Irish primary school child, has a long history of use in foods and medicines. The Greeks saw it as a treatment for gout and the Roman’s brewed a tea with bramble leaves.
The ancient Celts treated blackberries as a sacred plant and used the berries to make dark dyes, preserves and remedies.
Today, blackberries are known for their deliciousness but also their high Vitamin C content, and you’ll often find them in lots of recipes for healthy shakes etc.
Our blackberry bun recipe is what I’d call semi-healthy – it has plenty of nutritious ingredients, but it’s not entirely without sin!
Memories of blackberries
Growing up in the countryside, my sisters and I spent hours every August in the fields picking blackberries that would be eaten straight from the bush or mashed up with a dash of sugar and smeared between two slices of well-buttered bread. Any that we didn’t devour were turned into blackberry and apple jam by our mother.
In adulthood, I have lovely memories of taking a small Ava to see how our very slow house-building project was going and walking down the fields handing her berries as she trailed behind me, saying “Mo bezzies, mo bezzies!”. That was her very early introduction to the benefits of foraging.
Recipe for blackberries in a bun
We adapted our recipe from an online version we found for fruit buns several years ago, and over the years we have continued to adapt it to cater for what fruits – fresh or dried – we have in the house, and also the people for whom we are baking. As the late summer and early autumn approach we always look forward to picking blackberries and making our buns – they’ve become one of those annual treats that herald the back-to-school days. But if you freeze some berries then you can add some cheer to a cold and wet winter’s day later in the year.
Ingredients for basic blackberry bun recipe:
200g butter (or your favourite dairy-free substitute)
200g soft brown sugar (we are using golden caster sugar today, only use dark sugar if you really like the taste)
140g self-raising flour (we tend to go gluten free)
60g desiccated coconut OR ground almonds
1 grated apple and a cupful of blackberries
2 large eggs (we’re using duck eggs)
Just cream the butter and sugar together before mixing in the beaten eggs, then carefully fold in the flour and coconut/ground almonds before lastly stirring in the fruit. Stir rapidly with a sharp knife just long enough to break up the blackberries a little bit without completely disintegrating.
Place in paper cases in a bun or muffin tray (the number of buns you’ll get depends on your ingredient choices and the size of cases you use but you should get 12-14.). Place in an oven at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool as fruit will be burningly hot when you initially remove the buns from the oven.
These buns are best eaten on the day they are baked, but will keep well for a couple of days in a sealed container. They make a lovely addition to a school or work lunchbox or as a gift.
We’ve had a lot of fun varying the contents of the buns. If you prefer plain apple buns then just use two apples (juicy are best), or you can replace the blackberries with your other favourite summer fruits. If you like dried fruits then just fling in a handful or you can also add chocolate chips if you want to make sure children will eat them – our white and milk chocolate chip combo is the best!
Happy baking! And if you want to read more about the things we blog about then simply click here – you can also access us on Facebook and Twitter.
Meanwhile, you should take a moment to read all about our homemade blackcurrant cordial, which could make a lovely accompaniment to the blackberry buns.