This pastel vasco is a recipe from one of favorite books, “Sunday Suppers at Lucques,” and it’s kind of like a really buttery pound cake with fruit in the middle — and on top. I’ve made it with other fruits — like strawberries and blueberries — but mostly I like it with blackberries. And some cream, of course.
Recipe, after the jump.
First, you make the blackberry compote.
It starts with caramel. Put some sugar in a pot, then take a vanilla bean, split it —
— and use a paring knife to scrape the little tiny beans inside into the sugar:
Turn on the heat. Don’t stir.
In the meantime, make a slurry of cornstarch and water. This will thicken the sauce later:
Watch as the sugar-water gets very golden brown:
Do not stir.
Add blackberries and brandy. It will sizzle and harden. Let it.
Add cornstarch slurry and whisk until it thickens.
Add raw blackberries to cooked ones and cover them all with the thickened syrup.
Stir to coat.
Then make your cake.
Melt a whole bunch of butter:
Sift flour and baking powder together:
Whisk in sugar:
Slowly whisk in butter. Not too fast or it will cook the eggs:
Add other wet ingredients — extracts, orange juice, rum, etc.:
Then fold in flour:
Put the batter in the fridge for half an hour. I put it in a smaller bowl to save space:
Butter a loaf pan:
Then put about 3/4 of the batter in a the loaf pan.
It’s pretty sticky, so just be patient.
Put compote on top:
and cover with the rest of the batter:
Just use your fingers to pull together any parts that don’t want to cover.
Do an egg wash over it and sprinkle sugar on top of that:
Bake for about an hour.
When you serve it, you’re supposed to toast the cake slices with butter in a cast iron pan, then top with the compote and some cream.
We did that for our Saturday night dessert, but when we were snacking on the cake Sunday afternoon, it’s just as good plain.
Pastel Vasco with Blackberry Compote and Pour Cream
2 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, 3 for the cake and one for an egg wash
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling over the cake
14 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, plus 3 tablespoons unmelted
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
Blackberry compote (recipe follows)
1 cup heavy cream
Sift the flour and the baking powder together. Add the salt.
Whisk 3 eggs together in a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, melted butter, rum, vanilla extract, almond extract and orange juice. Fold in the flour mixture. Put the batter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Lightly butter a loaf pan. Pour 3/4 of the batter into the pan and spoon 3/4 cup compote over it. Top with the remaining batter, letting some of the berries show through.
Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the batter. Sprinkle a handful of the sugar over the top. Bake about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely on a rack. Cut into 3/4 inch slices and butter lightly on both sides.
Warm the remaining compote in a small saucepan over low heat.
Heat a griddle or large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Toast each slice of cake lightly for a minute or two on each side until it’s golden brown and crispy. Arrange the slices, slightly overlapping, on a large platter. Spoon the warm compote over the slices of cake and serve with a small pitcher of cream.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 pints blackberries
2 tablespoons brandy
Pour the sugar into a medium pot. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp into the sugar. Add 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring. Cook about 10 minutes swirling the pan occasionally until thye mixture is an amber caramel color.
While the sugar is caramelizing, stir 2 tablespoons water into the cornstarch in a small bowl. This is called a slurry and will help thicken the fruit juices. Set aside.
When the sugar has reached an amber caramel color, add half the blackberries and the brandy to the pot. The sugar will harden. Continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes without stirring over medium-low heat until the berries release their juices and the sugar dissolves.
Strain the berries over a bowl and pour the liquid back in the pot. Transfer the cooked berries to the bowl and stir in the remaining uncooked blackberries. Bring the blackberry caramel back to a boil over medium heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry a little at a time. Cook a few more minutes, stirring often, until the sauce thickens. Pour the thickened juices over the berries and stir to combine.