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Bilberry Foraging in the Cairngorms

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Scouring through the heather-clad hillside in search of the little matt-navy treasures. Bilberries, or Blaeberries as they’re know in Scotland, are a wonderful little fruit that can be found through late Summer and into early Autumn. Native to Europe, these berries not only look similar, but also share a similar taste to blueberries. They can be eaten raw or cooked into a cake or pudding.

Hailing from Aberdeen, I try to spend as much time as I can in the Caringoms National Park. It’s my favourite place at any time of the year. However, the end of August to the end of October has to be my favourite. It’s in these months, where Summer is slowly turning into Autumn, the heather is an array or wonderful colours. Deep pinks and purples all the way through to peach and light terracotta - where the new season is starting to show. The days are still long enough for hours of adventuring and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be treated to some rare Scottish sunshine. At this time of year, walks through these beautiful hills are only enhanced by the presence of bilberries. Picking them as I go, eating a steady supply of the sharp, juicy treats. The only downside to these berries, are the bright purple evidence that you’ll be left with staining your hands and tongue!

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Kristiine Raag shares her recipe for a beautiful Bilberry Yogurt Cake with us.

Ingredients:

100 g butter
3 egg yolks
200 ml natural yogurt*
130 g sugar
100 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
a pinch of salt
zest of 2 small lemons, finely grated
100 g bilberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a 20-22 cm springform cake pan with parchment paper.

  2. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly.

  3. Stir together the egg yolks and yogurt, then mix in the sugar.

  4. In a different bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar and salt.

  5. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stir gently to almost combine, then mix in half of the melted butter. Repeat with the other half of ingredients, adding in the lemon zest together with the butter. Mix gently until everything is just combined and pour into a prepared cake pan.

  6. Scatter the bilberries evenly over the top and bake for about 50 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Note that the inside of the cake will be soft and moist, but it should not be runny - in this case it needs bit more time in the oven - nor too dense, which might mean the batter has been over-mixed.

  7. Let cool for around half an hour before slicing.

    *Use thick, but pourable whole milk yogurt, not a strained one. I use yogurt with 5% fat content, but anywhere around there should be fine.


Credits
Words by Emma Cantlay
Recipe by Kristiine Raag
Photography by Emma Cantlay and Kristiine Raag