Summer is here, and with it, my craving for vibrant flavors that mirror the bounty found in farmers’ markets and grocery stores. My husband 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 need to pinch myself each year when the snow finally melts and we rediscover the joy of dining on the front veranda overlooking mountain vistas. Randy and I eat lunch at noon while relaxing in white wicker chairs fitted with comfy cushions.
I’ll admit, this midday ritual makes it hard to return to work in the afternoon, but oh, how I look forward to those noonday interludes. In the evening, we dine at a round 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, selecting colorful placemats and dinnerware that complement my planned meal.
On Friday mornings, I love to shop at the farmers’ market adjacent to Lake Dillon. The view of the lake surrounded by mountains is stunning.
Over the years, I’ve come to know several of the farmers. I recognize 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 whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla 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
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 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 Chantilly cream.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings