I’ve had this dessert twice in my life. The first time was at our old house, maybe a good ten years or so ago. One of our neighbors had a cherry tree and had buckets full of cherries which were free to whomever wanted them. My parents were visiting at the time and my mom, the daughter of a farmer, gladly accepted. Cherries just weren’t something my brother or I grew up with, so it’s safe to say I was surprised. She told me that my grandma, her mom, used to prepare a dessert for dinner that was called “Busy Day Berry Cake” in which she didn’t bake it, but rather cooked it on the stovetop. She proceeded to pit the cherries, and in general, take over in my kitchen which was okay by me. After all was said and I done, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, what was not to love?
My parents were back in town this past weekend, just having returned with the girls from a trip to Illinois and were home for a few days before heading back to Colorado. I was making dinner when mom offered to help and I told her I had some cherries that I’d picked up from the store and asked if she wouldn’t mind making that cake ‘she’d made that one time’. So while I made dinner, she made dessert, and like the good sport he is, my dad went to the store for some vanilla ice cream. After dinner, we enjoyed the busy day cake while mom recalled that grandma would make this quite a lot since my grandpa had quite the sweet tooth (I always sort of figured having a sweet tooth was in my genes!) She’d swap out different fruit or just do the cake and drizzle with a cinnamon sugar sauce, but always served with a scoop of ice cream. I’ve had my grandma’s Revere cookware for the last 3 years and use it daily for cooking; in fact, mom used the stockpot to cook the dessert. The significance of the story, cookware, and the dessert I was enjoying was not lost on me. It’s times like this where I feel like we’re doing our best to keep their memories alive.
- 1 2/3 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/3 cup shortening (I was out so mom used butter)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups of berries (any kind)
In a bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Stir in the egg. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and vanilla, mix until well combined. Put berries into a large pot (if using cherries, add a tablespoon or two to help with the tartness) and pour cake mix over the berries/ cherries. Cook over medium heat, covered with a lid for 25-35 minutes (checking occasional) or until cake is cooked all the way through, being careful not to burn the berries on the bottom. As it cooks, the fruit mixture will bubble up through the cake mixture.
Serve and enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Store the remaining (once cooled) in an airtight container in the refrigerator.