Summer calls for al fresco lunches, picnics and delighting in the fresh flavours and colours that the new season brings.
Chia seeds have been a highly valued source of nutrients in the Americas since precolumbian times, the Aztecs regularly used chia seeds to complement their diets and even to pay tributes to their emperors.
Ingredients (makes 8 slices)
Pre time 20mins / Bake time 30 mins
For the sponge:
225g plain or spelt flour
225g lightly packed brown sugar or stevia
2tbsp baking powder
125ml rapeseed oil
200ml natural yoghurt
Zest of 3 lemons
1 tbsp chopped lavender leaves
1 tbsp chia seeds
For the filling:
1 cup blackberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp lightly packed brown sugar or honey
2 tbsp icing sugar plus extra to dust the sponge
How to make it…
Preheat the oven at 180 C ̇. Grease and dust your mould, you can use a round 23cm cake tin.
First the sponge…
In a big bowl combine the wet ingredients: eggs, oil and yoghurt, whisk vigorously with a hand whisker, add the lemon zest, chopped lavender, chia seeds and whisk again. Using a sieve, add the flour and baking powder, then using a metal spoon incorporate the batter by folding the ingredients until all lumps disappear and the batter is smooth and even. Transfer the batter to the mould and tap it to eliminate air bubbles, place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Get working on the filling…
Using a whisker, whip the icing sugar into the ricotta cheese until it acquires a fluffy consistency, then place in the fridge. Rinse the blackberries and dry them gently with a paper towel, reserve some to decorate the cake. Place them in a pan, squeeze the juice of half a lemon and add the tablespoon of lightly packed brown sugar, place on a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. The liquids of the blackberries will begin to ooze and the berries will break down. Continue cooking for another minutes and remove from the fire. Using a sieve, separate the pulp from the juice. You can always use the sweet fruity syrup to make a nice cooler.
Allow the pulp to cool before adding it to the sweetened ricotta and mix vigorously and return to the fridge. Once the sponge is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool before un-moulding. Then let it cool completely on a rack before slicing. Filling and decorating…Slice the cake in three portions, remove each layer carefully and proceed to spread half of the filling on top of the bottom layer, then place the middle layer and spread the rest of the filling evenly before covering with the top layer. Dust the top with icing sugar and decorate with the remaining fresh blackberries.