Do hear the swan song of the tea cake as you walk through the kitchen out the front door? Its sweet little whisper begging to be "evened out . . ." Heaven forbid there should be a cake with a scraggly edge in my house! Not that I'm fooling anyone (myself the least!) by sneaking small slips of sweetness as I move from point A to B. The way I see it, a touch of tea torte is not the worst problem to have.

I recommend having a snacking, not-too-sweet cake around most days. It brightens the quick morning tea (as seen in the video from over the weekend) and grounds the 4pm work break when we're feeling peckish. There's endless variation on style, shape and ingredients depending on what's lingering long in the pantry and what fruits are in season. For today, I wanted to celebrate Summer's last kiss and throw a bunch of juicy, gorgeous, gem-like blackberries into a batter rich with olive oil and ground hazelnuts. And oh Mama, no regrets on this winning combo! It's just the perfect thing to have a slice, no matter how big or small, as you pass through the hearth of the home.

And the Puerh tea -- Have you tried it? It's a strong, fermented tea that is rolled and dried into pearl shapes. It's an acquired taste, simultaneously full of body and lightness. I'm warming up to it. And Puerh makes an excellent pairing with the sweet cake, setting off the nutty tones and bright berry flavors. Puerh can be found in brick and loose leaf form and hails from the Yunnan province in China. How I'd love to visit this part of the world!

Hazelnut Blackberry Torte
makes one 9" cake

2 eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
scant 1 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum

a handful of blackberries (or whatever other fruit you like)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, or kitchen aid mixer, whisk the wet ingredients together until uniform. Fold the wet into the dry until just incorporated. Pour into prepared cake pan and plunk berries onto the surface in a random pattern. Bake for about 35 minutes, until cake is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Puerh Tea
I buy a lot of my specialty loose leaf, exciting teas from The Tao of Tea in SE Portland. They have an informed staff and will teach you proper technique for steeping the absolute best cup of tea. I bought my Puerh tea there and will be back again soon to sample some new sips.


  1. I do love having a not too sweet cake on hand and the combination of blackberries and hazelnuts sounds wonderful.

  2. This is my idea of a perfect cake, not too sweet and filled with summer fruit. It looks so delicious. I've never heard of Puerh Tea, I will have to keep an eye out for it.

  3. OMG i love your cake and i really love your blog please if you want watch my blog!! ;)
    Now you are in my blogroll =)
    Kiss Marcello -Mela e Cannella-

  4. Hi Leela, I made this cake but instead of berries I used chopped chocolate chunks. What a perfect little recipe - thank you! And I love the blog! Tea and treats - two of my favorite things!


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