Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Berry Pickin at Swanton Berry Farm

We spent a luxuriously long weekend for the 4th doing all sorts of pleasant things - eating and drinking with friends, soaking in thermal pools, walking on foggy beaches and picking berries, among other things. Halfway between Santa Cruz and San Francisco we stumbled upon Swanton Berry Farm, which I am familiar with from the local farmer's markets up here but have never had the fortune of actually visiting. We had a great afternoon with only a few tense moments (upon arriving we found a quiet little patch and set to picking, only to realize later that we were in the "no picking" zone - we stealthily tiptoed away to find a sanctioned area to resume picking). We picked 3 pounds of tayberries, olallieberries and blackberries and probably ate our way through a solid amount as we worked. In spite of getting home fairly late - I decided to throw together a quick little berry buckle, enjoying some nice wine and cheese as I baked. I based my recipe on Smitten Kitchen's Brown Butter Nectarine Buckle Recipe and tweaked it here and there. See below for what I did.

For a nice article from Saveur about Swanton farmer Jim Cochran and his delicious berries you can click here

Brown Butter Berry Buckle: To begin, melt one stick of butter in a pan and let brown (keep a close eye on it as it doesn't take much to go from browned to burnt). Once browned, set aside to let cool. In a medium bowl combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Then in a large bowl whisk together the browned butter and 1 cup sugar. Whisk in two eggs, one at a time. Stir in 2/3 cup buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine. In a separate bowl combine the juice of half a lemon, about 1/3-1/2 cup sugar and about 2 cups of berries. Grease a cast-iron skillet, line with parchment and pour the batter on in. Pour the sweetened berries on top of the batter and finally top with streusel. (I made the streusel by combining 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup each of brown and white sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 cup chilled butter. Cut until the mixture resembles coarse meal and then mix in about a cup of oats.) Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

As an aside - we got to enjoy an afternoon at Refuge Spa in Carmel Valley and I definitely recommend it if you are nearby. You can read about it here courtesy of Sunset Magazine

One last thing, in case you have never heard of a tayberry here is a little information from YumSugar

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