Labor Day weekend at the cottage with good friends. A bittersweet end to summer.
Lake swimming, hiking, biking, reading, stargazing.
Shunpiking* to discover gorgeous vistas, plump red sumac berries ripe for the picking (and drying for spice – I”ll post on that later) and the best garage sale ever.
Making Irene’s summer fruit cake to bring to a wonderful outdoor dinner party (great conversation, great food, great people) on an evening cool enough to end inside around a burning wood stove. (Thanks Rick for leaving the stove door open so we could see the fire.)
We left a day early, warned that the impending hurricane would make return to the coast near impossible. False alarm, but a traffic-less return with great music and great conversation more than made up for the early leave.
Here’s to the end of summer in the Endless Mountains, made even better by this year’s strategy of taking off a bunch of Fridays in lieu of a vacation week. The good news is the mountains and the lake are even more beautiful in autumn, the wood stove beckons, and we’ve got a good 10 weeks before we need to close the cottage up for winter.
*Shunpiking: an avoidance of major highways (regardless of tolls) in preference for bucolic and scenic interludes along lightly traveled country roads.
SUMMER FRUIT CAKE
This cake recipe is absolutely perfect and a delicious celebrating of the stone fruits of summer. My mother-in-law Irene makes it with small Italian plums – each slice has a single plum half nestled atop, making for a very pretty presentation. We used larger plums and white peaches from the Farm Market and sliced them before putting them on the cake – not as pretty a presentation but omg delicious. You can also make this cake using apples.
- 6 oz. soft butter
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 3 eggs separated
- grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 tbsps. rum
- 2 cups flour
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 8 peeled and sliced apples tossed with lemon juice or any summer fruit* such as blueberries, apricots, peaches or small blue Italian plums. If using summer fruit, omit lemon juice. If using blueberries about 1 pint of berries will be needed. If using apricots, peaches or plums about 18 to 24 whole fruits will be needed, depending on size.
- ¼ cup slivered or sliced almonds
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to375 degrees fahrenheit.
Halve the fruits, remove pits. If they are large (i.e. peaches), slice them thick. If they are small plums or fresh apricots, just leave them halved and don’t slice them.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fluffy. Reserve.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time beating thoroughly after each addition. Add rum and vanilla to butter mixture. Add lemon peel and mix well.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and add to batter, mixing only until incorporated. Do not over beat. Fold in beaten egg whites.
Pour batter into baking pan. Place fruit cut side down on top of batter. (If using apples, slice and arrange in rows on top of batter with a little sprinkled sugar and cinnamon, and ¼ cup currants or raisins if desired.) Sprinkle the top with the slivered almonds.
Bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until tester comes out dry and cake is lightly browned. Cool on rack. Cut in serving size squares and remove from pan.