The last few days of cooler weather and earlier sunsets have me nostalgic for the summer that’s all but slipped away. For long nights on the deck. For meandering walks through the neighborhood. For fireflies and hoses and ice cream on a Wednesday evening. There was all of that this summer, and there was a perfect weekend in the northwoods, too. One I won’t forget soon.
Kevin and I drove from Chicago to the south shore of Lake Superior, to meet my family for a night of camping. (Note to self: camp with my parents more often. Their version of rustic is one that I can definitely get behind.)
Then we went into Minnesota, up along the north shore of Lake Superior—the shore I know like the back of my hand.
We spent two nights at my grandparents’ house. We tried to pick wild blueberries (and failed—we’d missed the season). We rode the Alpine Slide. We drank beer brewed in Ashland, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota. We saw the sunset over Lake Superior, before that same sun glittered across the same lake the next day.
When we left before dawn at the end of the weekend, we saw the sunrise over the lake, too. For as many times as I’ve seen that lake—that lake that has my heart—I’ve never seen the sun arch up over its waters. It was spectacular.
We left with that sunrise in our rearview mirror, a tub of just-picked blueberries and raspberries from my grandpa’s garden in the backseat, and the familiar bittersweet feeling of a too-short visit home. It’s not unlike this end-of-summer feeling. To stretch that trip out, and I suppose to stretch out the summer too, I baked the blueberries and raspberries into a simple buttermilk cake, ribboned with the berries’ crimson and sapphire juices.
Berry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted Slight from Gourmet
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh berries (about 5 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round springform pan (or, if you don’t have a springform, a 9-inch cake pan).
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter berries evenly over top.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. If using a springform pan, cool in the pan completely. Run a knife along the edge of the pan, and unmold the cake. If using a regular cake pan, cool the cake in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.