Farmers Market Stroll Inspires Zesty Lemon Cake
Summer is here and so is my craving for vibrant flavors that mirror the bounty found in farmers markets and grocery stores. Barbecued ribs slathered with sweet and spicy sauce during their final moments on the grill, crisp salads brimming with just-harvested cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes, summer berries and stone fruit, plus anything citrus – these bright flavors bring mouth-tingling joy to my summer meals.
My husband Randy and I spend much of the summer at our historic Colorado mountain home where moderate temperatures allow us to remain comfortably outdoors most of the time. I almost have to pinch myself each year when winter finally relents and we rediscover the joy of dining on the front veranda overlooking mountain vistas. At noon, Randy and I eat lunch while relaxing in white wicker chairs fitted with comfy cushions. I’ll admit, this midday ritual makes it difficult to return to work in the afternoon, but oh how I look forward to those noonday interludes. In the evening, we dine at a wood table that once stood in my Fort Worth television studio and now resides in the shade of the veranda. I take special care setting the table each day, selecting colorful placemats and dinnerware that highlight both the season and the meal I’ve planned.
On Friday mornings, I love to shop at the farmers market adjacent to Lake Dillon. The view of this immense lake surrounded by mountains is truly stunning, and I often say a prayer of thanksgiving for this wonderous gift. Over the years, I’ve come to know several of the farmers – who sells the best-tasting tomatoes and Palisade peaches, and which booth will be overflowing with beans, corn, squash, and salad greens still damp from the morning dew. As I stroll from one booth to the next, my mouth waters while the sights and smells provide inspiration for weekly meals, impromptu gatherings with friends, and recipes still to be developed.
One of those strolls led me to a basket filled with fragrant lemons. Lemons always make me think of summer. Their bright yellow color and tart flavor are quintessential elements for pitchers of ice-cold lemonade, slices of lemon meringue pie, zesty marinades for chicken and fish, and my recipe for Lemon Pound Cake. Every morsel of this easy, melt-in-your-mouth cake is filled with bright lemon flavor. Baked in a tube pan, garnished with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, and served with fresh berries or stone fruit and a swirl of Chantilly cream or a scoop of ice cream, this summer dessert is ideal for family reunions, Fourth of July picnics, and casual gatherings with friends. Happy Summer!
Lemon Pound Cake
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 pints fresh blackberries, rinsed, for garnish
- Whipped heavy cream, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set it aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, lemon zest, and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternately with the milk, scraping the bowl often, until the batter is thick and fluffy. Spoon the batter into a greased and floured tube pan and bake 1 hour 20 to 1 hour 25 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack. Run a sharp knife around the outer edge of the cake and set it aside 30 minutes to cool. Remove the tube pan insert from the pan and allow the cake to cool 20 minutes more. Run a sharp knife between the cake and the bottom of the pan, place the wire rack over the top of the pan, and invert the cake. Set it aside until it has cooled completely.
To serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar, slice, and serve with blackberries and a swirl of sweetened Chantilly cream.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
High Altitude Baking: Reduce baking powder to 1 teaspoon, butter to ¾ cup, and sugar to 1 ½ cups. Add 1 additional egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.