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Great Scottish produce from great Scottish science: berries

Blueberries (c) James Hutton Institute
"Our researchers are hard at work assessing many different blueberry varieties to find plants that grow well and have desirable traits, to then use them as parents in a breeding programme.

As the popularity of berries with shoppers continues to increase, scientists at the James Hutton Institute are working with growers and industry on projects designed to secure the place of UK-grown soft fruit in the market. For instance, our researchers are hard at work assessing many different blueberry varieties to find plants that grow well and have desirable traits, to then use them as parents in a breeding programme. Likewise, everyone knows the iconic fruit drink Ribena, but few people realise that the blackcurrant varieties used to produce this ever-popular drink were bred at the James Hutton Institute.

It has been estimated that blackcurrants bred at the James Hutton Institute account for more than 50 percent of the global crop. Hutton raspberry varieties include Glen Ample, the UK's most popular variety, as well as Glen Lyon, the number one variety in Spain. Our commercial subsidiary James Hutton Limited also offers expertise in breeding blackberries, gooseberries and blueberries.

The many health benefits of consuming deeply coloured soft fruit such as blackcurrants, blackberries and blueberries are the subject of much research at the Institute. With funding from the Scottish Government, InnovateUK, the EU and industry, our researchers have built up a substantial body of work that has identified these soft fruits as being beneficial to human health.

To celebrate the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, we’re sharing our recipe of a brilliant upside down chocolatey blueberry cake to highlight the quality of Scottish and UK berries. Enjoy!


  • About 200g fresh blueberries (you can also use fresh pitted, halved cherries, or canned/jarred cherries, drained and dried off)
  • 75g malted chocolate drink powder or drinking chocolate powder
  • 225g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g dark brown or dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 30g dark chocolate, grated or chopped finely
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Cooking instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C.
  • Grease and line the base of a medium depth 23cm loose base cake tin with greaseproof paper, bringing the paper up the sides and beyond the top of the tin a little.
  • Pour the blueberries into the base of the tin so they fill the whole area in a single layer of berries.
  • Cream the butter and sugar, either by hand or in a food processor, till light in texture.
  • Add the eggs and beat in.
  • Mix the flour, choc powder, grated chocolate and baking powder and combine with the creamed egg mixture, beating till it’s a smooth batter with a consistency like thick yoghurt. Add a little milk if it’s a bit thick, or a little more flour if it’s too loose.
  • Spoon the mix onto the layer of blueberries, being careful not to let it break through the layer of berries if possible, so as not to spoil the look of the cake when turned out.
  • Spread the mix evenly across the tin and put in oven for 45-50 minutes. Check progress towards the end of the cooking time by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick into the centre of the cake. If the skewer is clean when pulled out, then the cake is done. If it’s got traces of damp cake mix on it, leave it to cook a bit longer, checking every 5 mins or so.
  • Remove from oven and let cake rest in the tin for 15 mins before trying to turn it out. Do this by placing a dinner plate upside down on top of the cake tin, and carefully inverting the whole plate/tin assembly so the plate is on the bottom and the cake tin on top of it, upside down. Then gently ease the ring of the tin off, then the base and finally gently remove the greaseproof paper.
  • Serve with ice cream or cream.

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/great-scottish-produce-great-scottish-science-berries on 16/04/24 07:15:45 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.