This Summer’s featured ingredient is the Red Raspberry.
The red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is an edible fruit of the Rose Family. A raspberry is actually not a single berry, but a cluster of 50 to 150 tiny stone fruits, or drupelets, each containing a seed. 1
Red raspberries are indigenous to both Asia and North America. They are believed to have been first gathered wild on the Asian continent by the Trojans in the foothills of Mt Ida in ancient Turkey. Roman agriculturalist Palladius wrote about their domestication in the 4th century. Romans are thought to have initiated the spread of raspberry cultivation across Europe. 2
In early Medieval Europe, raspberries were mainly eaten by royalty. Their juices were used in paintings and manuscripts. All parts of the plant were used in medicines and topical treatments to treat such ailments as diarrhea and menstrual cramps. King Edward (1272-1307) is recognized as the first person to call for their general cultivation, and by the 1700s raspberries could be found growing in gardens throughout Europe.
American Red Raspberries were also used by the Native Americans in traditional medicines and eaten fresh or dried for ease of transportation. European settlers in America brought their cultivated raspberries to the new colonies. George Washington is said to have cultivated raspberries at his Mount Vernon estate. After the Civil War, major production of raspberries emerged across the country. Today, the leading producing regions for red raspberries are Washington, Oregon and California. 3
Raspberries are typically in season from June to October, depending on the region. Often local farms will offer a seasonal You-Pick berry patch one can visit with information online. In rural areas, there can be wild berry patches where one can forage. When first visiting a wild berry patch, go with an experienced berry picker who can positively identify the raspberries. While there has never been a clustered drupe berry (i.e. raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry) identified as poisonous, there are many berries that are poisonous! Never eat a berry that has not been identified as edible.
When picking red raspberries, select plump, firm, fully red berries. Unripe berries will not ripen once picked. Gently grasp the berry with your fingers and thumb, and tug gently. If it is ripe, the berry will easily come off in your hand, leaving the center part attached to the stem. Avoid touching the stems of the berry plants, as they can have tiny stickers. Fill containers no more than 3 inches deep to protect the berries. Refrigerate berries as soon as possible after picking for up to three days. Wash berries only when ready to use them, as they will quickly mold after exposure to water. Surplus berries can be frozen in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to 3 months. 4
Red raspberries are a rich source of manganese, vitamin C, fiber and numerous bioactive compounds that research indicates may have antioxidant, cardio-protective, neuro-protective, and anti-cancer effects. Raspberries also contain B vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.
This Summer’s Recipe is for Raspberry Chiffon Cake. With the richness of pound cake and the lightness of an angel food cake, chiffon cake is the best of both worlds.
Celebrate National Raspberry Cake Day this July 31st with our light raspberry chiffon cake, covered with a mountain of fresh raspberries, topped with raspberry preserve glaze, toasted almonds, and a generous dollop of whipped cream. It’s the perfect fresh summer dessert.
Raspberry Chiffon Cake
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 60-80 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours
Yield: 8-12 servings
8 eggs whites
8 egg yolks
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups fine granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups fresh raspberry juice
optional: red food coloring
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
seedless raspberry preserves thinned with a little fresh lemon juice into a glaze
whipped cream with fine granulated sugar & vanilla to taste
toasted sliced almonds
2 bowls, large
2 bowls, medium
strainer, fine mesh
tube pan, preferably with removable bottom & feet
1. Position oven rack in lower middle of oven. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Separate cold eggs, placing whites in a large very clean bowl, and yolks into a medium bowl.
3. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt through fine mesh strainer into the other large bowl.
4. Place strainer into the second medium bowl, and juice raspberries by squeezing raspberries in hands to extract juice.
5. Add raspberry juice and oil to yolks, and whisk until smooth. Add optional red food coloring if desired for a pink-red cake.
6. Whisk together flour mixture and egg yolk mixture.
7. Add cream of tartar to egg whites. With the second very clean whisk, whip to soft peaks.
7. Slowly add 2 Tbsp sugar to whites, and whip just to stiff peaks. (DO NOT OVER WHISK WHITES to ensure ease in mixing whites with batter.)
8. Whisk 1/3 of whites into batter.
9. Gently fold remaining whites into batter with rubber spatula until well combined.
10. Gently fill 10″ ungreased tube pan with batter.
11. Bake 60-80 minutes until springs back to light touch, top cracks and appears dry. Unlike most cakes, it is better to over bake slightly than under bake slightly to ensure the cake is adhered to the sides of the cake mold, and will survive inversion.
12. Immediately invert pan on clean counter, and cool completely, ~2 hours.
13. To unmold cake, turn pan right side up, and run knife around outer and inner edges.
14. Grasp inner tube and pull cake out of pan onto counter. Cut bottom free.
15. Invert cake onto serving plate. Gently twist tube to remove.
16. Cut slices of cake and place on individual plates or bowls. Top with whipped cream, raspberries, raspberry glaze, and toasted sliced almonds.