Before they’re gone for another eight months, I’ve been thinking about the signs of summer, especially at night.
Back then, it was “hoo hoo”s from the owls in the woods behind the house, the heck-heck bugs (as we called them) and crickets chirping their way through to morning, the occasional “whoosh” from a car speeding past the house way too late while I hid under my covers from the one mosquito that always seemed to find its way through my window screen. Summer was the slow red blink of “my” light, the beacon at the top of an electrical tower that I saw every night from my bedroom window.
Now summer sounds more like sirens from the nearby fire station and a more constant “whoosh” of city traffic, with the occasional note progression of wind chimes. It sounds like the hum of bugs that I thought for the longest time were the buzz of power lines. Summer looks like twinkly lights twisting around my porch railing through my screen door, and a block of sun inching its way across my porch in the evening.
I’ll take summer any way I can get it as long as it comes with peaches and berries and corn and blue skies and beaches and a cake or two. It looks like Chicago has one more day of 90’s left in it, which I will be enjoying to its fullest (an unrelated-to-food note: any Chicagoans looking for something to do this weekend, be sure to stop by the Renegade Craft Fair and check out my sister Erica’s booth for some amazing jewelry!)
I hope I’m not too late in sharing this with you. I hope you can find a half a peach and a few berry stragglers to make one more summer dessert.
Buttermilk Cake with Blackberries and Peaches
If I didn’t catch you before the peaches and berries left for the season, I imagine this would also be fantastic with plums, even cranberries. Also, if you can find whole wheat pastry flour, I liked the body and extra flavor it gave to the cake, but I’m sure this would be just as good with regular cake flour. Adapted from Bon Appétit.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
2 1/3 cups cake flour (sifted, then measured) plus more for pan
1 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 fresh peach, sliced
1 1/3 cups white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Arrange berries and peach slices in a single layer in bottom of pan; sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl; set aside. Beat butter and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and zest. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until incorporated. Pour batter over fruit and smooth the top.
Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 25 minutes (**a note on timing–start checking on it after an hour. My cake got dark when baked for the full time, but I think it was just right. Depending on your pan, oven, flour, etc. your cake may be fully cooked in less time.**). Let cool in pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan bottom; peel off parchment. Cool completely before serving.