A cake for summer

This summer has treated me very kindly. We began with three weeks in Colorado, spoiled by friends and family hosting us, sharing meals, playing with the boys, and even gifting Harry and I our first two night getaway since becoming parents. I read five books during that vacation. FIVE! I’ve also been virus-free, exercising pretty regularly, curbing some habits that have not been beneficial, adding a few positive ones back into the mix. I have been finding more space and some peace.

One of the books I read was Eat, Pray, Love. I’m sure you haven’t heard of it because it’s so recent and all, so just google it. Anywho, I really identified with Liz’s journey through Italy, during which she ate gelato for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and pasta for dinner. She was finally happy. I can totally relate. I am trying to indulge more, and not just with food. Welcoming the idea of a regular babysitter even though it feels luxurious. Embracing my desire to eat a pint of berries. Disciplining myself to an earlier bedtime. (This doesn’t always feel indulgent when it’s 9:30pm, but it does at 6am.) Exercising in the morning. Eating cake.

I have also savored a few days by myself this summer. One day I wandered through Pike Place Market and happened upon Alm Hill farms, whose particular raspberries were so divine when I tasted them last year that I later contacted them to find out the variety so I could plant it. Tulameen! As of February I have their canes in my garden, but we’ll have to wait until next year for their fruit. Alm Hill had rows of berries at their booth, and BEHOLD, they were Tulameen!

In the name of nurturing myself, I bought a flat right then and there. Because of the berries. Because of cake. My friend and former neighbor posted this beautiful raspberry cake recipe on her blog several years ago. I’ve made it two summers in a row, making it an official summer tradition for us. I love it. I love the cream for dipping, I love the tartness of the raspberries against the sweetness of the citrus-kissed cake. I was going to bake the cake regardless, but we were treated to a surprise visit with dear friends that night so they got to share in the fun. I converted them into Tulameen raspberry lovers, too.

IMG_7444 One week later, I still had Marsala. And orange juice. And sour cream. And I wanted more cake. This time I experimented, though, because it’s also boysenberry season and I can’t pass by a flat of them without serious regret. Since we have stonefruit coming out of our ears, the sweetness of the white nectarines seemed like it could be a good balance to the tartness of the boysenberries. I also like the depth of flavor whole grain flours lend baked goods and I thought this cake could handle that extra nuttiness. If you don’t have any whole grain flours, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this cake! Just use all-purpose. I think most whole grain flours would work well, though, including barley, spelt, rye, buckwheat or good ol’ wheat, as long as you keep the ratio 2:1. If I were, ahem, to make this cake again this summer, I’d try barley flour with blackberries and donut peaches next.

Anyways, I was so pleased with the results that I thought I’d share the recipe with you. IMG_7450

Boysenberry White Nectarine Marsala Cake

Inspired by Dana’s Raspberry Cake with Marsala

Makes one 10-inch cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup graham flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt (I prefer Diamond Crystal kosher salt)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

A sprinkling of cinnamon (~1/8 teaspoon)

1/2 cup Marsala

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (12 T for the batter, 2 T reserved for mid-way baking)

1 cup sugar plus 1 T for the sour cream and more for a mid-way sprinkling

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

3 cups fresh boysenberries (1.5 cups for the cake, the rest for serving)

2 white nectarines (1 for the cake, one for serving)

1 cup sour cream IMG_7452

Preheat your oven to 400℉ and make sure the oven rack is centered. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Whisk the first seven ingredients in a bowl to blend. Combine the Marsala and orange juice.

Cream together 12 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and lemon peel. Starting with the flour mixture, add it to the batter alternating with the Marsala mixture twice, until the flour is just mixed in. Pour the batter in your prepared pan. Place the berries and nectarines on top, ensuring that each slice will get several tastes of the fruit. (I had a six year old helper with the “decorating” so today’s placement was especially creative.)

Bake until the cake is gently set, approximately 20-minutes. It will still jiggle and wiggle a bit and that’s fine. Reduce the temperature to 375℉. Take the remaining two tablespoons of butter and dot the cake with it. I used my hands to break it into little pieces and place them evenly around the cake. Sprinkle the cake with a tablespoon or two of sugar. (I thought one was plenty, you may not!) Continue baking until the cake is cooked through (tester comes out clean), approximately another 15-minutes.

Cool the cake in it’s pan on a rack. Once it’s cool, release the pan sides and transfer the cake to a plate. Allow it to cool to room temperature. (Ha! Who can wait that long?! Only if company is coming…) Mix one cup of sour cream with one tablespoon of sugar (or another sweetener of choice. I think maple syrup would be tasty here, too.). Cut cake into wedges and serve garnished with sweetened sour cream and fresh fruit.


This cake pairs well with coffee. I bet most Rieslings wouldn’t be bad, either. Or rosé. But I’m definitely no sommelier. Either way, there will be cake!


One thought on “A cake for summer

  1. Pingback: Deep waters | Kathleen Bean

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