These Blackberry Prune Squares are based on a recipe my mum used to make when I was a child. Since she never wrote it down I had to rely on my memory of this wonderful treat and use my knowledge of baking to create this recipe. Although it is not exactly as I remember it (I’ll tell you why in a minute) I tried to stick with the idea of creating layers of pastry and fruit which is how my mum made it.
There is a type of jam/preserve in Poland called ‘powidla‘, which is made by cooking fruit (mainly plums) with sugar in a heavy bottomed dish very slowly for hours until the mixture is thick, sticky and the plums are nowhere to be seen (a bit like a seriously overcooked jam) – this is how I remember it being made years ago. Although it tasted great it was a laborious activity as it required frequent stirring (to prevent the plums from burning and sticking to the pan) so for a working mother it meant giving up a good chunk of her weekend in order to produce a few jars of this lovely spread.
I like shortcuts so in this recipe I used a mixture of prunes (which already taste like overcooked plums) and blackberries, to make a tangy and rich tasting ‘powidla‘ of sorts (the juice of the blackberries provided enough moisture so there was no need to add any water). Although the mixture still required a lot of stirring it only took about 6 minutes to cook (see Instructions below)! And it is pretty healthy too, as I only added 2 tablespoons of sugar and both blackberries as well as prunes are full of goodness (blackberries are said to retain their nutritional benefits even after cooking).
The Instructions for this recipe are quite lengthy, but don’t be put off – the cake itself is simple and really doesn’t take too long to make, but it does have layers so I wanted to ensure I clarified all the steps involved in making it.
These Blackberry Prune Squares are just gorgeous as a little morning or afternoon treat, with a cup of coffee or tea. Any questions, let me know:)
I am bringing this recipe to #CookBlogShare, which I have the pleasure of hosting this week – click on the link to see what everyone else has brought to the party this week!
Yields 9 squares
20 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
55 minTotal Time
- 300g blackberries
- 200g prunes, pitted, finely chopped
- 2 eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites separated
- 100g caster sugar (plus 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon)
- 100g butter, at room temperature (plus a little more for greasing the baking dish)
- 3 tablespoons fromage frais
- 230g self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (or cacao, it's better for you)
- Demerara sugar and almond flakes to sprinkle on top
- In a saucepan combine the blackberries, prunes and 2 tablespoons of sugar, stir and cook over a low/medium heat for approximately 6 minutes, stirring often and squashing the fruit with the back of the spoon as you stir. The mixture will be thick and sticky. Set aside to cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 365 F/ 190 C/ gas mark 5. Grease a 23 cm square (or equivalent) baking dish and line with parchment paper (alternatively, instead of using paper, sprinkle with a little flour and shake to spread it evenly around the sides and bottom). Set aside.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- Beat the butter, 100g of sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract and fromage frais until smooth and lighter in colour (about 3 minutes). Start gradually adding the flour mixture. When the dough begins to form place it on a work surface and knead in any remaining flour. Do NOT knead for too long, only until all the ingredients have been incorporated.
- Divide the dough into 2 parts (1 larger - two thirds, and 1 smaller - one third). Flatten the larger dough with your hands and place in the baking dish - continue flattening until it covers the bottom evenly and completely (you may want to dust your hands with a little four to prevent the dough from sticking to them).
- Cover with the fruit mixture, using the back of the spoon to even it out.
- Whisk together the egg whites with 1 teaspoon of sugar until light and fluffy (about 1.5-2 minutes using an electric mixer). Spread over the top of the fruit mixture, using the back of the spoon to even it out gently - do NOT press down.
- Sprinkle the cacao (or cocoa) powder on the smaller dough ball and knead until all the powder has been absorbed. Coarsely grate the dough over the top of the cake - do NOT press down!
- Sprinkle some Demerara sugar and almond flakes over the top (1-2 tablespoons each) and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and serve!