I’ve had the fortune over the years of spending Independence Day in different cities across America: Birmingham, Alabama, New York City, Jackson, Mississippi, Central Pennsylvania, Palm Springs, California to name a few. On July 4, 2012 the already nostalgic holiday took on additional significance when my uncle (my father’s brother) passed away in a tragic accident. We spent the next few years celebrating the 4th differently, without fireworks and barbeque. A passing is always a cause for reflection but a passing on a holiday leaves the quandary of how to move forward recognizing both events in the years to come. For me, my soul heals itself by creating something beautiful. So, in the spirit of Uncle Chris and all things red, white and blue this is what’s going on in the garden and in the kitchen this week.
Red, White-ish and Blue Succulent Pot
This succulent project was inspired by the big, beautiful Echeveria ‘Blue Sky’ I found a few weeks ago on it’s last leg at a home improvement store. It took time to nurse it back to health and now it’s the centerpiece of this project.
Blueberry and Strawberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
I can’t say that in July I make our food resemble actual flags but I do like to be festive the week of Independence Day. I love using blueberries and strawberries in recipes this time of year. This buttermilk cake isn’t overly sweet and is the perfect light ending to any picnic or summer meal.
For the cake:
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing pan
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/14 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups blueberries
4 to 6 large strawberries, diced, underripe ok
For the glaze:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 lemon, juiced and zested
Dash of vanilla
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, beat remaining butter, granulated sugar and vegetable oil on medium-high speed until fluffy, at least five minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Once fluffy, beat in one egg at a time on low speed. Then beat in vanilla. Turn off mixer and add one-third flour and half the buttermilk, beat until incorporated. Add another one-third of flour and the remaining buttermilk, beat until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and beat 30 seconds, scraping down sides. Finish incorporating mixture with rubber spatula, avoid over mixing.
Toss blueberries and strawberries, separately, in remaining 2 tablespoons flour. This will cause the fruit to suspend in the batter rather than sinking while baking.
Spoon one-third of batter evenly into prepared pan. Place half of blueberries and strawberries onto batter then top with another one-third of the batter. Scatter the remaining fruit on top and cover with the rest of the batter.
Bake until the cake is golden brown, in the warmer months 1 hour, in the colder months 1 hour, 10 minutes. Test cake at 55 minutes with toothpick, if it comes back perfectly clean, cake is done. Transfer to a rack to cool for 30 minutes. Run a sharp knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto rack to cool completely before glazing, at least two hours. After cake has cooled and just before serving, make the glaze. Whisk confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla and lemon juice together. Whisk in one tablespoon of milk at a time until a thick glaze consistency is achieved. Pour glaze over cake, allowing it to drip over sides. Slice thick portions.
We live in the land of the free because of the brave. Be safe celebrating!