Friday, July 17, 2009

Summah Days

In Cape Cod, you know summer has arrived when the toilet starts sweating. Granted, it's not a very romantic image, but it is a fairly accurate predictor of just exactly how hot and humid the day is going to is my hair, but that is another story altogether. Summer days here can be particularly thick and heavy, especially if it is very hot. The moment you step outside, your sunglasses fog up, and your feet stick in your shoes. It's a little hard to breathe and your clothes cling to your skin as if you've just jumped into the sea. Everything moves slower and seeks shelter during days like these...everything, that is, except the bugs.

This was especially true for us as we ventured out to Taylor Bray Farm to pick our first blueberries of the season. Unfortunately, as we excitedly picked our way through the blueberry patch, all manner of biting and/or sucking insects excitedly picked their way through us, not hampered in any way by the copious coating of poison we had sprayed all over ourselves in a desperate attempt to fend them off. I was a snack for no-see-ums, mosquitoes, green-head flies, and some other type of fly that was orangeish in color. Red welts bubbled up on our thighs as sweat beaded up on our brows. But we persisted in our efforts, and despite the bugs and the small matter that the majority of the berries were still green on the branches, we brought home 3 bagfuls of the delightful ripe berries.

There is something very satisfying about picking your own food and knowing just exactly where it grew and who grew it. Though it's even more exciting when you've grown the food yourself, picking it from a local farm is nearly just as good. I love it that my children know that blueberries are plucked from bushes before they're nestled in pint-sized baskets, and that lettuce is torn from frilly heads in the garden , before it is packed into clam shell containers or cellophane if only they would EAT it (the lettuce, that is) steps.

Our bags of blueberries morphed into a lovely sauce for a rich lemon pound cake. The cake was tart and pleasantly pale yellow, and a perfect contrast to the sweet and deep purple syrup that was drizzled over the top. It was a delicious way to end an incredible meal (that included local lobster, striped bass, and corn) and a made a decent dent on our berry supply. Tomorrow morning...blueberry muffins, of course. If you are lucky enough to pick your own blueberries and are needing additional inspiration, check here for some more beautiful desserts.

Lemon Bundt Cake

This lovely cake comes from the Barefoot (2 sticks of butter) Contessa. Like all her cakes, this one is moist and incredibly flavorful. Though there are many steps, the end results are well worth your efforts. If you desire, you can bake the cake in two loaf pans instead of a bundt pan. The cake also freezes well.

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temp
2 1/2 C granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temp
1/3 C grated lemon zest (6-8 large lemons)
3 C all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t kosher salt
3/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (DIVIDED)
3/4 C buttermilk at room temp.
1 t pure vanilla extract


2 C confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a bundt pan. Cream butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on med. speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 C lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour batter into the pan, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 C granulated sugar with 1/2 C lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Crushed Blueberry Sauce
makes about 1 1/2 C

This most amazing sauce comes from Bon Appetite Magazine. The brown sugar gives it a real depth of flavor and the lemon peel and juice cuts the sweetness a bit. It was perfect on this lemon cake, but would also be amazing over pancakes, waffles or ice cream.

3 C fresh blueberries or frozen, thawed (13 to 14 ounces), divided
2/3 C (packed) golden brown sugar
2 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t finely grated lemon peel
Pinch of salt

Combine 1 1/2 C blueberries and all remaining ingredients in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to simmer, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until berries are very soft and liquid is syrupy, stirring often, about 7 minutes longer. Remove from heat and add remaining blueberries. Using back of spoon, gently press fresh blueberries against side of pan until lightly crushed. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Serve chilled or rewarm before serving, if desired.


lauren said...

i randomly stumbled across your beautiful blog today.
and i am so happy that i did!

usually i'm a cupcake girl, but your beautiful cake inspired me to bake one of my own!

i just pulled an orange pound cake out of the oven... only barely tweaked the recipe and used orange juice rather than lemon.

some gorgeous blueberries were on sale for $1 pint at my grocery store, so they, along with some strawberries i had, became a sauce similar to the one you made!

thank you for the inspiration. my family is really looking forward to enjoying this cake. :]

Alison said...

Thanks Lauren,

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


Tamar said...

Your bundt cake is beautiful, but I'm afraid it's your sweating toilet that really got my attention!

I feel much better knowing that someone else in my neighborhood -- and another food blogger, no less -- has the same problem.

Alison said...


It's not pretty, is it? And it seems like it's not letting up anytime soon. Ugh. Of course, we complained with all the rain too! LOL!


Tara said...

As I mentioned on your post about blueberries - no luck getting those here in Turkey, but I was wondering what to do with the crate of lemons our friends graced us with from their garden! Can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks Alison!