I returned from a long weekend in Seattle attending Foodista’s fabulous International Food Blogger Conference craving three things: a ginormous salad, a piece of fruit-filled, not-too-sweet cake, and the reassuring experience of putting whisk and spatula to bowl and, a short time later, pulling something fragrant and inviting from the oven.
Restocking my barren kitchen at the incomparable Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (no Monday farmers’ market in the area), I erred on the side of too much fruit. Way too much fruit. This is the time of year when nearly every produce vairety is branded “last chance.” If you hope to slurp up one last juicy taste of summer, you’d best grab it while you can.
(Thanks to Fresh World for the image.)
Back home, alongside a basket of Autumn Royal grapes–large, seedless, olive-shaped orbs, dark black and crunchy–and a variety of melons, sat Italian prune plums, O’Henry peaches, and a half-pint of blueberries.
I thought of the Nectarine-Blueberry Cobbler from Farmers’ Market Desserts, or a crisp, but what I really was craving was cake. I thought of the Black & Blue Buckle from the book, but I didn’t have enough berries, and no blackberries. Plus, I was hoping to hold back on butter and sugar to make something that satisfied like cake, yet felt healthy enough to enjoy in the evening, and again for breakfast or a mid-day snack.
I landed on the Strawberry Buckwheat Tea Cake in Farmers’ Market Desserts, but made so many changes it would not be recognizable. Who says baking is an exacting science?
Health be dammed, I couldn’t resist melting a scoop of the vanilla ice cream I recently made for a Deep-Dish Sour Cherry Pie over the top of the cake, warm from the oven. In the morning, it will be delicious with yogurt.
Crazy Mixed-Up End of Summer Fruit Cake
Lebne is a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese. You can make your own by draining Greek yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth until it has the texture of spreadable cream cheese. I love it for baking, as it adds richness and moisture without as much fat as butter or oil, and adds less water than yogurt or sour cream.
Makes 8 servings
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup fine stoneground cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or baking spice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (can be nonfat, low-fat, or whole milk)
1/4 cup lebne (kefir cheese) or an additional 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup wildflower or other honey
1/4 cup mild-flavored olive oil or grapeseed oil, plus more for pan
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups mixed berries and stone fruits cut into small chunks (peels on or off, as you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 350oF, with a rack near the center. Oil an 8-by-2-inch square baking pan or 9-by-2-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together the whole wheat, all-purpose flour, and buckwheat flours in a medium bowl. Add the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spice, whisking to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, lebne, honey, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir the wet mixture into the flour mixture just until combined. Use a spatula to gently fold in the fruit.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near the center tests clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
Serve the cake in squares or wedges, plain or topped with vanilla ice cream, slightly sweetened yogurt, or whipped cream.