Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Blackberry And Apple Cake

Winter is coming, in more ways than one. It sure feels ominous out there in the midst of a public health crisis, but – as always – Julia Busuttil Nishimura’s recipes are here to warm our hearts, and remind us to slow down.

With a brand new baby on deck (!), Julia is still whipping up autumnal recipes in a frenzy of new season excitement. Laced with cinnamon, sugar and tart cooked apples, this buttery tea cake is the perfect rustic confection to usher in the cooler months.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

No longer pregnant, Julia has a new baby boy! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Apples are the premier autumnal fruit. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Julia in her kitchen. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

New baby Yukito Floriano. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

The cake is brushed with butter and dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

And heaped with blackberries. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

A dish best served warm. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
17th of March 2020

While summer has now officially left us (a little sad, I know), some of the late summer produce still hangs around for us to enjoy. But now I look to autumn for inspiration. The market is suddenly brimming with new season figs, pumpkins and apples. I really do love this time of year when the seasons cross over.

I was so excited to see all of the new season apples emerge at the market over the last few weeks. One stand had at least 7 varieties, some usually very difficult to find and all wonderfully imperfect and still with their leaves attached, they looked beautiful. I bought far too many, but I couldn’t resist and thought I would make a beautifully simple apple and blackberry cake to share with you. I adore this combination, and the dark purple fruit turns a more vibrant purple in the cake. I usually cook with granny smith apples as I love their tart flavour, but here I’ve used two different varieties – granny smiths and also a lovely pink lady. Use any variety you like, but a mix of a tart and sweeter apple is a great combination.

The warm cake is brushed with melted butter and topped with cinnamon sugar – it smells unbelievable and will be hard to resist eating it warm, which is actually more than fine. I can still remember the apple cinnamon cakes my mum used to make when I was younger. She called it a tea cake, and we would have pieces of it still-warm from the oven. Heavily spiked with cinnamon, they were always delicious and so comforting. My version not only has blackberries rippled through it, but also a good dose of sour cream which gives the cake a very tender crumb. I make this cake in a stand mixer as the butter and sugar do benefit from a good beating, however, it can easily be made simply with a bowl and a wooden spoon.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.


200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
Seeds scraped from a vanilla pod or 1tsp vanilla extract
Zest of a lemon
200g full fat sour cream
200g self-raising flour
2 apples
125g blackberries, plus extra to serve

Cinnamon Topping

1tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2tbsp caster sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon

crème fraîche, to serve


Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 24cm round springform cake tin.

In the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter for 2-3 minutes or until very fluffy and pale. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add in the vanilla, lemon zest and sour cream and continue to mix. Now tip in the flour and mix on a low speed until just combined.

Peel the apples, cut them into quarters and cut out the core (alternatively core the apples with an apple corer before you quarter them). Slice the quarters into 3mm slices and gently fold into the cake, along with the blackberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or a spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when tested.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and while the cake is still hot, brush the cake with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar all over. Allow to cool completely in the tin (although eating it warm is lovely too) then transfer to a serving plate. Pile fresh blackberries onto the cake and serve slices with a generous dollop of crème fraîche.

What else I’m eating this month:

The Baker Bleu croissants at Napier Quarter, where they’re served with seasonal house-made preserves and butter.

What else I’m cooking with:

Plums, figs and new season potatoes which are incredible right now.

You can follow Julia’s food adventures on Instagram and find more recipes via her website – and stay tuned for her brand new BOOK, due for release next month!

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