The BEST Lemon Cake Recipe and Berries, Cherries, and Pies (Oh My!)

The BEST Lemon Cake Recipe and Berries, Cherries, and Pies (Oh My!)

Spring means berries and cherries and all the delicious baking that goes with it! Even if you can’t go to the farm, let the farm come to you by way of your local grocer and get ready to cherry and berry. Click to skip to the recipe

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

 

When I think of Spring, I think about berry pickin’. When I was little, my grandparents had a huge garden. (They also raised pigs and chickens… but that’s another story.) In the garden we picked ripe strawberries from vines for Gram when asked.

We usually ate more than we turned over for Gram’s famous berry pies as was evidenced by our stained (and somewhat guilty) smiles.

At the end of Gram and Gramp’s long, dirt drive was a hedge of berry bushes. I think they were huckleberries, but they could have been blackberries. I remember my brother and sister and I would pick the berries and thread them onto long straws and then eat them like an ear of corn. Yumm! Many of these didn’t make it to the pies, either.

Luckily, Gram had nine grandchildren, and even given our full bellies, pies were baked!

Today, I love to take my grandkids to a strawberry patch at this time of year, but, in this climate of social distancing, the patches are devoid of pickers, yet abundant in berries. I recently bought a box of over-sized deeply red, ripe, strawberries from my grocery store. The handwritten sign told me that they came from a local farm, not but five miles away.

Which leads me to my berry recipes! The first is not a recipe. It’s a “just a little extra’ to your everyday standard.

I’m talking about blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup.

Blueberry Pancakes with Berry Sauce

easy blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce

I add a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon to my standard boxed pancake batter. Then I substitute melted butter for vegetable oil. This creates rich batter for your cakes.

I reserve about twenty blueberries from a pint. The rest I place into a deep saucepan. Pour maple syrup over the berries and simmer on low until the berries break down. Be careful, the berry syrup can bubble up if you’re not watching. Turn off the heat so that the syrup cools down a bit.

Make the pancakes as you normally would, but place a few of the reserved berries onto each one before you flip it over. Stack the blueberry pancakes on a plate. Top with a dollop of butter and ladle warm berry syrup over the top. The cakes absorb the berrieness from inside and out! It’s a treat.

As you might imagine, I can find myself with a bunch of leftover berries. These, I freeze and use to make smoothies and sauces. My lemon cake is the perfect foil for an easy berry sauce.

Glazed Lemon Cake With Very Berry Sauce

Serves:

Time:

A crowd

30-Minute Cuisine, Plus 1 Hour Baking

Ingredients

This lemony cake with berry sauce is just puckerable enough to make it into the lip smackin’ category.

For cake:

1 ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup butter, 1 ½ sticks, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

¼ cup sour cream

Zest from 2 lemons, about 2 tablespoons

Juice from 2 lemons, about ¼ cup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Juice from 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For berries:

4 cups assorted berries (I used frozen left-over berries)

½ cup granulated sugar

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9” x 5” loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Fit a piece of parchment paper into the pan with some of the sheets overlapping so that you can use the paper to remove the cake after baking. Then spray the paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy and smooth. Stir in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the lemon zest and juice from 2 lemons, sour cream, and vanilla. Add the flour about ½ cup at a time, until the batter is just mixed together. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 60 minutes. Cool the pan on the rack for 30 minutes, then transfer the cake from the pan to the rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, juice from 1 lemon, cream, and vanilla. The glaze will be thick, but pourable. Place the cake onto your serving platter. Pour the glaze over top.

Place the berries and ½ cup sugar into a deep saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat. Cook the berries until they break down and are soft and mushy. Cool to room temperature. Place a colander into a larger bowl. Push the berries through the colander, using the potato masher. You want most of the pulp and seeds to stay in the colander. Transfer what’s left in the bowl to a small pitcher.

Drizzle the sauce onto a plate. Top with a slice of cake and a few extra berries for garnish.

Best Cherry Tart Recipe

I have a thing with cherries. I love cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry chutney. Just eating freshly pitted cherries with grandson, Ben, is a blast. He loves the pitting!

On the flip side, I deeply dislike canned cherry pie filling; Don’t get me started!

So, I came up with a way to satisfy my cherry pie craving, using fresh cherries and time-saving refrigerated puff pastry dough. It’s easy and delish!

Serves:

Time:

Makes about 20 palm-sized tarts

30-Minute Cuisine

Ingredients

These little tarts are best warm from the oven. You can make them and freeze them and bake them off when you’re ready for a treat!

For cherry filling:

2 pints fresh cherries, pitted about 3 cups

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

Zest from 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon

Juice from 2 lemons, about ¼ cup

For pies:

1 (13.5-ounce) refrigerated package puff pastry dough

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon coarse sugar (I used raspberry flavored coarse sugar)

Mini Cherry Tarts

Place the cherries into a deep saucepan. Add the sugar and splash in about 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the cherries over medium heat until they begin to breakdown and the sugar dissolves, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Stir together the cornstarch, lemon zest and juice until smooth and pour into the pot. Continue simmering until the cherries begin to bubble up the sides of the pan. Use a potato masher to mush together the cherries in the syrupy sauce. Continue simmering until the mixture resembles fruit jam. Remove the pot from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Place the dough onto your floured board or work surface. Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 15” x 18” and about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into four equal strips, horizontally and 5 equal pieces, vertically. You will end up with about 20 squares.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Place a colander into a larger bowl. Pour the cherries through the colander, using the potato masher to squeeze out as much of the juice as possible. Place a tablespoon of cherry filling on each square of dough. Fold the dough over and seal with the tines of a fork. I folded mine into triangles, but rectangles or squares are fine too! Place each tart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each tart with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until the tarts are puffed and golden, about 15 to 18 minutes.

A Tale of Blueberry Sleeve Cake

A Tale of Blueberry Sleeve Cake

See that iced coffee sweating in the carafe? Yep… that’s late August in Florida

With this many years in cooking and catering—and please don’t ask how many—I often get this type of question: “Jorj, what would YOU bring to an event like ______ (fill in the blank).” I have to say that most people who approach me for advice in the “provisions” department have unique circumstances; for example, it is an outdoor event and they are worried how the food will hold up, or they are going to a party full of people with special dietary needs.

In the most recent case, it was a volunteer event on a blisteringly hot day in Florida. Everyone was going to be gardening!  While I would happily have steered my friend toward pastry from one of my books like Sunday Best Dishes, her gardening party was on a Sunday after all, I have shared her zip code in Florida and the heat this time of year there is UNREAL. When you work outside there are bugs to contend with and a perspiration problem that even a hundred and ten tons of Gatorade cannot cure, not to mention close to 100% humidity—these are definitely conditions where an extremely detailed, painstaking cake recipe just would not be appreciated….soooooo, I passed down a very basic blueberry cake recipe and recommended she cut slabs of cake placing them in their own portable sleeves: like clean coffee filters! I am told the volunteers at the Coral Springs Community Garden liked the cake, and it seemed to make them smile more than the Dunkin Donuts that the ants were also fighting over that day!

his recipe produces one loaf per ½ pint of blueberries—while blueberries are best April through September in places like Maine, we can enjoy them year round, thanks to imports from Chile and Argentina. I checked the facts at the Blueberry Council!

Enjoy and take this to your next outdoor party!


Blueberry Sleeve Cake

Serving size: 1 loaf / serves 6
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chilled butter
  • ¾ cup half and half
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup blueberries

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter. You can use your electric mixer if you wish but mixing by hand works, too.

In a separate bowl, mix half and half and the egg; fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the blueberries and stir well, using a large spoon or spatula.

Coat a loaf pan with vegetable oil spray and pour in the batter. Bake for 30 minutes until the top of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean.

Chick’s Night In

Chick’s Night In

Sometimes I find myself home alone.  When this happens I mostly occupy myself by doing purposeful projects like cleaning out the closet, rearranging the kitchen drawers, and stalking my children on Facebook. You know — the boring stuff. The one thing I absolutely cannot bring myself to do is eat cold cereal for dinner. I have friends that do this. Rather than nuke something or throw something into a pan they eat cold cereal from a bowl. I tried this once and then made my way directly to the stove and cooked a full meal. I guess I’m just addicted to good food.

Alone last night, I defrosted some chicken thighs and braised them with some chopped veggies, wine, beef broth and added some frozen okra and fresh thyme. Yes… it was yummy; and while the chicken cooked I rearranged my knife drawer, it’s in stellar condition.

I have a recipe in Sunday Best Dishes  for “Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Peas and Bacon” on which this dish is based. Here is my home alone adaptation.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 large (5 to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 6 smaller thighs
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped, about ½ cup
  • 2 large carrots, diced, about ½ cup
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen okra, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the pan until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the remaining side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Carefully pour out the fat from the pan, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Place the onion, celery and carrots in the skillet. Cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, beef broth and tomato paste. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the okra and thyme and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve with rice or pasta or just on its own – single.

What is your favorite chick’s night in dish?