Summer

peachpoundcakeI love pound cake. I love peaches. I love cooking and baking with buttermilk. Need I say more about my Peach Buttermilk Pound Cake? Not really. It’s a Peach Buttermilk Pound Cake, y’all! But then at the same time, I could elaborate volumes upon volumes simply on the amazing nature that is a pound cake! Oh, the dilemmas of Southern culinary literature! I digress...

Buttermilk is my “go to “ baking liquid for cornbread, biscuits, pound cakes and cakes too. There’s chemistry involved with the acidity and dairy quotients but I shan’t bore y’all with that. I just know that buttermilk is awesome. Instead of further elaboration on buttermilk and its baking prowess, I’ll tell y’all why I love it in this cake in particularly – the zippy tang. It is not strong but there is a slight undercurrent that keeps the cake from being too sweet. A perfect pairing with sweet to tart peaches!

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bluepoundcake.jpgSome things are just too good to pass up, such as the combo of blueberries and brown sugar.

And what else would be better than to combine them into a poundcake?

I adore poundcake. Love it more so. I’ve been kicking it up a notch lately with buttermilk, which I pretty much substitute for milk in most of my baking now. It gives a lift and kick and a richness to cakes especially. Honestly, because cakes NEED a bit more richness… enter gilding the lily terminology here.

Add in blueberries and your summer has just been captured in this dessert. Garnish with whipped cream, serve warm with ice cream and of course a few fresh blueberries, or toasted the next morning as the breakfast of champions!

From the blueberry fields flooding into to Middle Georgia into this Farmer’s kitchen and now on to yours, enjoy this delightful dessert!

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rhubarb-and-orange-thyme-scones-012b-1024x682There’s a new kid in my garden. Can you see that dainty little sprig of green right on top of that pretty scone? Well, that’s it. That’s the new kid. His name is Orange Thyme of the Thymus family. I’ve known his cousin, Lemon Thyme, for many years. For several summers, Lemon Thyme has been a favorite visitor in my kitchen, adding shindig to my sugar cookies, cha-cha to chicken, liveliness to my lemon bread and sassy flair to my salads. I love Lemon Thyme. When she’s not in my kitchen, she’s just outside the door basking in the sunshine.

And then, last weekend I spotted tiny Orange Thyme at the Kingfield Farmers Market in Minneapolis. I snapped up the potted herb and found a spot for it very near to Lemon Thyme. If all goes well, Orange Thyme should be making a perennial appearance in my garden.

I could not wait to snip a few stems of Orange Thyme and start baking. With a few stalks of rhubarb still in my refrigerator, I chose to make Rhubarb Scones with Orange Thyme, using my favorite base recipe for scones. I added a bit more sugar to balance the tartness of the bits of rhubarb that I stirred into the batter.

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crumb strawb.rhubarb sliceNothing really speaks summer better than fresh rhubarb and fresh strawberries. I love going ot the farmers market and smelling the scents of summer. Fresh fruit is everywhere: berries, stone fruit, citrus, it’s at almost every stall and one piece of fruit tastes better than the next.

Wanting to create something that screamed summer, it was a crumb cake recipe from Canelle et Vanille that inspired this recent dessert. With lots of strawberries on hand, not only did I make a whole tart for our Father’s day, family dinner but I made individual cakes (in Weck jars) for end of the year gifts.

When I stumbled upon the recipe, it inspired a memory from middle school. My first memory of a crumb cake was an aluminum, massive tray, manufactured, in the school cafeteria. I didn’t buy lunch or snack often, but on coffee cake day you can bet I had change in my pockets. The flavor of my first coffee cake is a far cry from this wonderfully light cake, but a crumb topping is a crumb topping – and that flavor is hard to beat.

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summersangrisFor an excellent summer refresher, perfect for a picnic or party this upcoming Labor Day, how about trying this recipe for sangria? Using in-season stone fruit, this recipe is the perfect way to celebrate (or mourn) the end of summer. Feel free to use whichever fruit you choose, but it is especially nice with fresh, ripe stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, and/or plums. Mangoes, pluots, or cherries would also make a nice addition. I happened to use a white peach, a white nectarine, and a white pluot.

For the spirit, a peach or plum brandy works especially well (try a plum Palinka from Hungary), but any other brandy works fine too. Many white wine sangria recipes call for the addition of sugar and soda, but there is no need if you use a sweet sparkling wine. Sweet sparkling wines such as Asti, semi-seco Cava, demi-sec Champagne, or Prosecco work the best.

The addition of peach nectar to the sangria is reminiscent of a Bellini, a cocktail of Prosecco and peach purée that was invented in the late 1930s at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. So, if like me you were unable to take a trip this summer, grab a glass of sangria and let your mind wander.

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