I’ve been away doing summer (I hope you have too). Accumulating new freckles because I don’t tan and trying to keep my basil plant alive. It’s outlived a very clumsy cat. But by the looks of the leaves today, it might be fresh out of lives. It’s hot out. Living at a latitude of around 50° N (Chicago, New Haven, Minneapolis) has taught us to enjoy the sweaty summer months. But the humidity and heat right now are enough to make me wish for an early snowfall. Stone me. With your fresh tomatoes please.
My friend Heather Hardison sent me her new book Homegrown: Illustrated Bites just before the craze of summer and our move hit. I’ve been following Heather for years over at Illustrated Bites. Her recipes are simple and seasonal. Where you’d expect pictures, you’ll find illustrations and hand lettering.
Heather’s book is full of the same type of recipes, plus tons of (illustrated) tips from how-to-grow to how-to-handle produce which I’ll need next summer when I try my hand at gardening. My thumbs are not green, so we decided to take it easy this year and cover the backyard in mulch. It’s maintenance free minus the apple tree I hugged to save. I get the phrase now—the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which is adjacent to our driveway. That’s not maintenance free. Hallie’s taken it upon herself to test each fallen apple. There are many.
Maybe a bit presumptious, but I think it’s safe to say Heather and I share a similar cooking philosophy. Her recipes are simple and laden with vegetables. When she bakes, she uses grains, whole milk and whole milk yogurt, butter, and maple syrup—all staples in my kitchen. Her recipes make me feel right at home.
I dog-eared her Breakfast Blueberry Cake right away. It’s a tall simple cake, plenty moist, mildly sweet, and heavy on the blueberries. A slice is perfect as is, or served with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or yogurt. I’m dreaming of making this cake again with cherries and almonds. If a cake could be nice, this is what I’d call her.
- 1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c. maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 c. plain whole milk yogurt
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3 c. fresh blueberries
- 1/2 c. rolled oats
- 1/2 c. pecans
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. flour
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 9" cake pan or two 6" cake pans. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, cream together butter and maple syrup until well combined and pale in color, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, yogurt, and vanilla until just combined.
- Add dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Fold in blueberries and evenly distribute in pan, smoothing out the top. The batter will be on the thicker side.
- Make crumble by combining all the ingredients until evenly combined. Top cake.
- Bake for about an hour. Halfway through, cover cake with foil to keep crumble from over-browning.
- Allow cake to cool in pan atleast 20 minutes before removing and serving.
• Try this variation: substitute blueberries for cherries, vanilla extract for almond, and pecans for slivered almonds.