Blackberry Spice Cake

It’s that time of year when all the early autumn fruit is ripening, a sort of bonus gift from nature to apologise for the end of summer and the imminence of winter. I’ve been pickling and preserving like my life depended on it, which historically would probably have been all too true.

Happily most of us no longer have to endure a subsistence lifestyle but while the blackberries are fat and juicy, you might like to do a bit of foraging and make this fruity, gently spiced cake.

It’s so perfectly autumnal, you can almost smell the woodsmoke and see the mist curling round the fields.

And that’s where the romanticism ends. The day-glo icing – the astonishing colour comes entirely from blackberries, not artificial ingredients – is optional. It won’t be for everyone but it’s certainly eye-catching.

Blackberry Spice Cake


125g butter (plus a pinch of salt if using unsalted), room temperature

125g soft light brown sugar

2 large eggs

225g self-raising flour (or plain flour + 2 level tsp baking powder), sifted

1/2 tsp finely ground star anise

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

Zest of 1/2 orange (optional but good)

150g blackberries, lightly crushed with a fork

For the icing:

60g blackberries plus a few more to garnish

2 tbsp lemon juice

150g icing sugar, approx


Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F/Gas Mark 5. Butter a 2lb loaf tin (approx 20cm x 12cm x 9cm), dust it with flour and tap out the excess.

Sift the flour and spice into a bowl and stir to mix. Add the salt, if using.

In a second bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add one egg and mix well. Add half the flour and mix again, then the second egg and then the remaining flour, blending thoroughly each time. Add the orange zest, followed by the crushed blackberries, and stir through but don’t over-mix.

Spoon into the prepared tin. Level the top and give the tin a few good raps on the kitchen counter to settle the mixture. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. When the cake is done, take it from the oven and leave it in the tin for 5-10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

While it’s cooling, make the icing. Mash the blackberries and push them through a sieve. Mix the puree with the lemon juice and enough icing sugar to make a thick pouring consistency.

Stand the cake on a wire rack with baking paper or a washable mat underneath. Pour over the icing, allowing it to trickle down the sides. Garnish with extra blackberries. Let the icing set before cutting the cake – overnight is best.

16 thoughts on “Blackberry Spice Cake

  1. On one of my trips to the UK we took a stroll down the road from our hotel and found a fruit farm. We picked the biggest blackberries I have ever seen. I tell my friends that their taste was like pure sunshine.
    I’ve never tried using them in a loaf cake but you’ve convinced me, red icing and all.

  2. Linda, this sounds utterly divine…but, d’you know…our blackberries are utterly RUBBISH this year! I went a-foraging last weekend, and was truly disappointed by the blackberry pickings this year – despite the abundance of bramble patches around our river. I think I got about 10g after nearly ribboning myself on the thorns!
    However, the elderberries are coming on a treat, so I may try your cake with those instead.
    My mother used to make the most divine elderberry cheesecakes by putting a foil “collar” around a digestive biscuit, pouring on the cheese mix, and then topping off with an elderberry jam.
    I planned to make something similar this year, but as I’ve so many, I think I’ll give your recipe a go as well!
    Thank you for the idea 😋
    And now that I’ve treated myself to six new chickens, I’ve no excuse not to get cracking – ‘scuse awful pun 🤣

    • Well that’s frustrating, the blackberry situation, I mean. Elderberries would be interesting, please let me know how it turns out. Or you could try autumn raspberries. Your mum’s recipe sounds great, what a clever way of making individual cheesecakes. And with six chickens you should certainly have enough eggs! Pun forgiven, I’m the world’s worst punster myself. Have a great weekend.

  3. I made this yesterday and it was terrific, thank you. Sadly the blackberries around here are just about finished but that spicing is so lovely, I’m going to try the same recipe with dessert apples, which we have in abundance. Shame it won’t have the same gorgeous colour, though.

  4. Sorry to be so late. We are all buried in emailed political ads and monetary pleadings over here. Do you think I could use a 1/4″ or 1/2″ dice of apples with this cake? I could buy commercial blackberries but apples are in all the farmstands at the moment. I’m not sure if they are moist enough. Thanks as always…

    • Hi Chip, how are you? I should think cake making is a welcome respite from all the electioneering right now. Yes, you could use apples, peeled and diced small. Maybe a sweet/sharp eater? Best without icing, in that case, I think! Please let me know how you get on. All the best, Linda

      • You are up up too early and I am up too late. Thanks. I’ll let you know how it goes. Yeah. No firghtening PINK icing! 🙂 No offense…sorry…

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