Friday, July 27, 2012

Tea Time Blueberry Cake

Hello there. Are you enjoying the summer? Specifically, are you enjoying the summer fruit? I hope so. This first month of my summer has been uncharacteristically busy -- an out-of-the norm for me. Usually when school ends, I spend a good week and a half doing nothing and mulling about, reminiscing and baking scones or making a treat for a road trip. Not this year. Boo hoo.

But I did make cake. A wonderful, hearty, spelt and blueberry tea cake, sweetened with dark maple syrup and made with the season's first Ontario blueberries. I obsess over berries each summer, and in the fall, I always regret not eating more. Berries are so fleeting and will always be. And even though I know the best way to eat these local delights is to just enjoy them straight up, I can never resist baking up batches of goodies studded with ripe, local fruit. This cake is no different. It's a very simple, no fuss cake, adapted from one of Heidi's recipes at 101 Cookbooks. Her version uses huckleberries and includes a little crumble topping. Seeing as I've never seen a huckleberry here in Ontario before, I decided that blueberries would have to do, and although I love crumble topping, I skipped it for a more wholesome, breakfast friendly-version of this cake. Heidi also included some fresh rosemary and thyme in her cake and I loved the idea of herbs adding that little something extra to a dessert. I followed her lead with the thyme, as each summer they grow like mad on the balcony and I feel bad if I don't use them up, but instead of the rosemary, I added some fresh lavender leaves which perfumed the cake ever-so-slightly -- perfect with the floral, fruity berries.

While making this cake, I thought about one summer when my sister drove my best friend and I to a farm just north of the city, and we spent the afternoon in the sun, picking blueberries and raspberries. When I sampled the blueberries I bought for this cake, the whole day came flooding back to my mind -- the hot, dusty drive out of town, the sun on the back of my neck as we stooped over the pick our berry treasures, the way I giggled when a farm boy with an accent handed me my blended lemonade and grilled corn on the cob, the rustic, touristic feel inside the gift shop where you could buy jams, pies, and other assorted goodies, and the way my best friend giggled at me when I bought honey-roasted soybeans of all things at the shop and snacked on them all the way home in the car. Gosh, that was a good 7 or 8 years ago, but I remember it so clearly.

I'm not sure if there will be road trips, berry picking or dusty car rides into farm land this year. But there will be cake, there's already been lots of coffee, and there will always be giggles and good times.

Happy Summer. I hope you're having a good one .. and I hope it lasts forever ...

Maple Blueberry Tea Cake
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1/4 cup of spelt flakes
1/3 cup of skim milk yogurt
zest and juice of one lemon
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup of dark maple syrup (grade B amber)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of canola oil
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
5-6 fresh lavender leaves, finely chopped
1 cup of spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of fresh blueberries, washed

1. In a large bowl, combine the spelt flakes, lemon juice and zest and yogurt. Stir well and let it sit for 10 minutes before adding the egg, maple syrup, vanilla and canola oil. Mix well.

2. Add the thyme and lavender and sift in the flour, baking soda and powder. Mix until just combined. Add the blueberries and give it one final mix.

3. Pour your batter into a baking pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until the cake tester inserted comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy when you touch it.

4. Serve with tea, coffee or big dollop of yogurt and more fresh berries for breakfast!

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