These are the kinds of things I did before I started school. I’d traipse out to a berry farm with some friends, sling an old plastic bucket ’round my waist, and walk, eager-handed, along hedges heavy with sweet crimson teardrops.
Now my cell phone and Microsoft Word compete for my companionship, and I am haunted by a no-time-to-bake sense of loss. But the memories at least are cheerful, like the piles of open-mouthed raspberries we collected on that late August afternoon…
I meant to freeze them for daily use in the kefir smoothies I posted about last, but it turned out they were too good. They resisted my futile gestures of preservation like a silver dandelion puff resists the wind. They just refused to be eaten any other way: fresh from the bucket, or doused with cream.
These little guys had all the best things of summer stored in their small caverns, and delivered it to us again and again as the days marched steadily into fall. As I learned on the berry farm, raspberry picking is best in late summer and early fall. Around here that can take you well into early October. Apparently, one or two nights of frost actually makes the berries sweeter, so get thee to a berry farm, folks.
It turned out I had one small victory over my must-eat-fresh berries. As the bucket’s bounty waned in the fridge, I knew there were more to these berries than red soggy handfuls. And there was one more to kefir, too: muffins and breads and buns, and and and . . . coffee cake.
As a child, I used to think all coffee cake tasted like coffee, and thus avoided it. At some point, I learned the truth, and life has never been the same. Blueberry, lemon, poppyseed, cinnamon, my mother’s own version of heaven on a plate. It’s all fair game, and goes so well with a steaming cup of Joe.
Armed with my remaining berries, I put together a little internet search for an appropriate raspberry-lemon yogurt coffee cake. After sifting through many results and tweaking them to create my own, I came up with this Raspberry Kefir Coffee Cake. It’s a mouthful, I know, but just wait until you taste the cake.
This recipe can be modified in countless ways. As long as you follow the basic amounts, you can substitute yogurt or buttermilk for the kefir, really, if you must. The recipes I consulted called for baking powder, but one thing I might change next time is to add a little baking soda to the mix. Apparently, soda is used in recipes that have an acidic ingredient (like kefir or yogurt), and powder in recipes that don’t. Some recipes don’t seem to follow this general rule, and so next time I’m going to experiment a little further and see if I can get a wee bit more lift out of the cake.
This cake will go down easy as a sweet summer day, slipping serenely into fall.
Now go and pick those last hangers-on while they’re at their sweetest. And if you can’t, just dream with me.
*farm pictures courtesy of the lovely and talented ms. June
Raspberry Coffee Cake
3 cups flour, divided
1 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1.5 cups sugar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs at room temperature
1 cup plain yogurt or kefir
2.5 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
1 T water
.5 tsp almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a large Bundt pan (I think it’s 12 cups), and sprinkle with flour
- Whisk together dry: 2.5 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and .25 tsp salt in a medium bowl.
- In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in kefir or yogurt.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir until just mixed (some streaks of flour are OK).
- Toss .5 cup flour and the raspberries together in a separate bowl. This will coat them, and keep them from mushing in the cake’s assembly. Fold a few of the raspberries into the batter until it’s just stained with pink.
- Spoon half of the batter into pan and smooth. Add remaining raspberries (see above picture), and top with remaining second half of batter. Smooth with a spatula.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Whisk icing sugar, water and .5 tsp almond extract in a small bowl. Drizzle over cake, and let stand.