When we moved into this house 12 years ago one of the most impressive things I found on the property was a giant rhododendron in the far end of the backyard. This was no ordinary garden plant, this was more of a dwelling. I loved walking around it and inside it, because it was that large. It was easily as big as those tiny houses that are so fashionable right now. I marveled at the branches which were twisted and arching and slung out in all directions and there were always birds flying in and out of it.
Of course it goes without saying that when it bloomed every May it was kind of eye popping. Heavy violet blossoms as big as your head covered the entire tree from top to bottom.
Twelve years later the giant rhododendron is one of those things that aren't there any more. As the years went on more and more branches became sickly and it bloomed less and less. Pruning and acid fertilizer did nothing to stem the tide of a steady decline. Last year we declared it officially dead and pruned it back to a few core branches.
For some reason we couldn't bring ourselves to remove it completely. It still commands a prime location in the back garden among the holly and the hostas, although I'm ashamed to say the old foot print is horribly matted with nasty weeds.
I was back there the other day and I noticed a cat bird with a big piece of torn plastic in it's beak. He was hopping from one dead branch to another, the plastic sheet flapping with each new landing. I watched until the bird finally flew off and disappeared into the holly and for some reason it gave me a sense of immense joy.
I guess the rhodie isn't one of those things that isn't there anymore. Just not there in the way we remember. It's still there for the birds and that's good enough for me. Of course I really, really must do something about those weeds!
Now, about this cake- almonds and berries go together like birds and branches. This is a great yummy cake to bring to your Memorial day bash next week. It is super moist and the flavor just gets better the second day. You can make it ahead of time and it's doesn't need assembly like some fussy strawberry short cake. The recipe was adapted straight from the Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour bag. I used a mix of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries because for me the more the berrier! It's great just as is, of course I can't stop you if you want to add a scoop of ice cream or a rosette of whipped cream!
berry almond upside down cake
1 cup butter, plus more for the pan
1 cup sugar, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rind of one lemon
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 pint blackberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
toasted almonds for garnish
fresh whipped cream
Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a 10 inch round cake pan and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each and scraping down the bowl and beaters as necessary.
In a medium bowl whisk together almond flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add one half of the dry ingredients and mix on low. Add the buttermilk, vanilla extract lemon rind and the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix just until everything is combined and make sure to scrape the bowl and beaters.
Arrange the berries in the bottom of the pan and cover with cake batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a plate or cake stand over the cake and carefully, it's still hot remember, invert the cake. Remove the pan and let the cake cool completely. If not serving immediately wrap cake and keep refrigerated and let it come to room temperature before serving. Garnish with toasted almonds and confectioners sugar, serve with fresh whipped cream and fresh berries if desired. Makes 10 to 12 servings.