Living close to the North Yorkshire moors means I have a beautiful and natural playground to explore. This week I enjoyed some late summer sun and gathered the last of the summer bilberries on the northern moors.....
Bilberries are small fruits, similar to blueberries that have been part of the culinary history in the North of England for a while. These little ‘gems’ grow wild on the moors and ripen about August. They
are perfect for puddings, fruit preserves and raw in smoothies or on breakfast cereals.
Locally, they have a reputation for having many medicinal properties....a remedy for sore and ulcerated mouth, poor circulation, cystitis. Local folk law even suggests they helped RAF pilots with night vision in world war II. I am not too sure about those claims, but I do know they are very nutritious. They are packed full of vitamin C, carotene and tryptophan - all antioxidants that have health benefits we would want. Here is a recipe I have adapted – Autumn Bilberry Sponge. Try it as a lower fat alternative to cream cakes or chocolate biscuits, with a nice cup of Yorkshire tea.....
4 large eggs
160g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
60g plain flour
200g fresh or frozen bilberries, with 50g extra for decoration
Dusting of icing sugar
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line two 7’’ cake tins
- Sieve the flours and baking powders together.
- Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Whisk in the sugar
- Now whisk the egg yolks until light in colour, add to the egg whites and whisk well.
- Gently fold in the sieved flour mixture.
- Toss the bilberries in flour before folding them into the mixture. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and cook immediately for about 20minutes until firm.
- Cool on a wire rack before removing from the tin and peeling off the Greece proof paper.
You can then dust the tops with icing sugar, slice and serve slightly warm with extra bilberries. Or sandwich the cold cakes together with low fat crème frais and serve with extra bilberry coulis – pureed the berries with a little caster sugar.