We Love Cooking! + [vanilla extract]

:: Wild Blueberry Picking and a Swedish Gooey Chocolate Cake

Unfortunately the last of the Swedish summer hasn't been as kind as I had hoped, with most of my time being spent dodging the rain, it all feels very much like home. However, the bad weather hasn't dampened our spirits and we soldiered on, enjoying one of the more traditional events of any true Swede's summer calendar, the highly regarded Kraftfest! For a foreigner, this can be a fairly strange event to come across, so put simply it's a party where large groups of Swedes don bibs and funny hats to guzzle and suck their way through mountains of Swedish crayfish, interrupted only by traditional kraftfest songs while downing copious amounts of schnapps (which, by the way, tastes like paint stripper!). In fairness to the Swedes they most definitely know how to make the best of the summer.

One of the other very exciting things I've had the chance to try my hand at is wild blueberry picking! Over 60% of Sweden is covered by rich forests which are literally teaming with low lying bushes covered in little blue dots throughout late summer. Like any good Irish fella, I never pass on the chance of free food, so as soon as I heard about these little babies, we were in the car and deep in the woods in record time.

One of the things I learned early on about Sweden is that everything has a system, and blueberry picking is no different, they have these fantastic rectangular boxes with a handle and little prongs to pick the berries, which makes it as simple as running it through the bushes, to pick up generous handfuls bursting with goodness! We are still working our way through the huge amount we picked, making American style blueberry muffins and a delicious blueberry créme brulee, but this was one of the desserts which perfectly complimented the little berries.

Swedish Gooey Chocolate Cake
If you're looking for a gooey chocolate fix, you've come to the right place. This cake is perfect for a quick dessert using ingredients you probably already have in your store cupboard. To be perfectly honest, it tastes so good on its own it can just as easily be served without the cream and the berries! I have witnessed the picking apart of a cake just like this straight out of the oven by a hungry group of young ladies. It was similar to a scene from a David Attenborough documentary - believe me, they didn't need the frills!

Serves 8
100g butter
200g sugar
2 eggs
70g flour
3 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
500ml of double cream
150g of blueberries and raspberries

Preheat the oven to 175oC. Grease and flour a cake tin 24cm in diameter with a removable base and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the sugar and the egg and mix well.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into the greased cake tin and place in the oven for 20 minutes. The cake won't rise dramatically but you should be left with a set top and gooey middle! Allow to cool while you whip the cream until it become stiff.
When you're ready to serve, spoon generous dollops of whipped cream on top and then decorate with blueberries and raspberries.