On Sunday afternoon, I made this cake while listening to some old school 80s Cardio on Pandora. Just me in the kitchen… with my cooking journal, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, yogurt, summer fruits, some whisks and spatulas, and mixing bowls. It’s the best kind of day: I slept in; made pancakes; went on a morning hike with my friend, Anna; went to a yoga class; didn’t have to stress out about going to work the next day (Labor Day weekend); enjoyed an afternoon movie with DFJ; and have nothing better to do but bake. What more can a girl ask for?
The makings of this cake have been on my mind since the night before I baked it. It had to be made because this is the kind of cake that I often dream of and would never tire of eating. I used a combination of whole wheat flour and dark rye flour which I initially assumed would cause it to turn out dense. But I was wrong. There is some heft in the cake, definitely, but along with it is the softness and springiness from being moistened by the Greek yogurt and buttermilk. The amount of sugar is just right and the sweetness is enough to make your heart flutter and smile. The orange zest gives it a fresh scent and you taste hints of it in every bite. This is why I have a thing for adding orange zest to most things I bake.
There’s another addition in this cake too… basil. The basil from the planter that my friend gave me is blooming like crazy, so I wanted to put the herbs into good use. Frankly, I hardly tasted it in the cake and this was with full concentration, eyes closed and all senses alert. But it’s there! It adds some nice green specks and has tons of health benefits (it contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, etc.). So if you have basil on hand, put it in. If not, your taste buds won’t miss it but your body could probably make use of what this good herb has to offer.
Stone fruits… I love them. Peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, you name it. There were some plums and peaches that begged to be used and that’s what I plopped on top of the cake and they added the perfect touch of sweet, juicy bites. But you can use any stone fruits here, or any fleshy fruit for that matter. The trick is not to dig it deep into the cake. Just let the fruit slices nestle on top, when the batter cooks and the cake rises, it will just form around the fruit and cradle it.
Just like the summer season, this Summer Cake is lovely… absolutely lovely. It is so simple but so good… it tastes like comfort, love, and home. A cake to wake up to and enjoy with coffee, to come home to after school, to shove in your face before or after working out, to eat with ice cream after dinner during Netflix time, a cake to bake for someone you love.
2/3 cup brown sugar1 tbsp orange zest
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2/3 cup whole Greek yogurt
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp basil leaves, loosely packed, chopped thinly crosswise
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup dark rye flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 plums, sliced1 small peach, sliced
a tad of butter to grease the pan
Pour the brown sugar into a large mixing bowl and rub the orange zest in using your fingertips. Add the butter. Using a hand held electronic mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed. Add the egg, yogurt, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth. Throw in the basil leaves and mix on low, just enough to spread out the leaves into the mixture.
In a separate mixing bowl, pour in the whole wheat flour, dark rye flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well until everything is sifted thoroughly.
Pour in the dry mixture a half a cup at a time into the wet mixture and mix on low until everything is well incorporated.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a round cake pan well with butter.
Carefully move the batter into the cake pan and make sure it is spread evenly on the pan. Arrange the fruit slices on top, alternating between plum and peach slices. Do not worry about snuggling the fruit slices into the batter, just let them sit on top, they will eventually be at level with the cake when it rises.
When the oven is ready, bake the cake for 58-62 minutes. Turn off the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. After 20-30 minutes, when the pan is cool enough to touch without hot pads, move the cake onto the cooling rack. First, cover the cake pan with a plate. Carefully flip the pan and let the cake fall onto the plate upside down. Gently remove the cake pan and place the cooling rack over the cake (which is the bottom of the cake). Flip the cake one more time so now the cake is sitting on top of the cooling rack, right side up. Let the cake cool completely, about an hour, before moving it to a serving plate or cake stand.
Enjoy with a nice latte or cup of tea and a good book!