Lemon adds something special to berry recipes. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Lemon adds something special to berry recipes. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Kachemak Cuisine: Berries and lemon recipes celebrate summer

The berry-best time of summer was just here and I hope you were fortunate enough to find yourself daydreaming in the berry patch.Last week was almost too hot to pick berries. I never thought I’d say that.

I’m happy when the berries are ready for picking, as I love picking and eating berries, and the nice little sanity break it provides me from our crazy summer schedule.

My friend Liz picked berries on a weekend getaway and came back with some of the biggest blueberries I ever saw in Alaska. She was nice enough to share and I just gorged myself on them. When life gives you blueberries, you make blueberry muffins.

Lemon adds something special to berry recipes. I always have fresh lemons on hand in the fridge. Just like a pinch of salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon is often the missing ingredient that can brighten-up a recipe.

The Best Blueberry Muffins

Pre-heat oven 425 degrees

Topping:

1/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest

Stir the sugar and lemon zest together in a small bowl until combined; set aside.

Muffins

2 c. fresh blueberries – divide into 1 cup amounts

1 1/8 cup + 1 tsp. sugar

2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled slightly

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 c. buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Spray a standard muffin tin with vegetable oil spray (or line with paper liners and spray). Bring 1 cup of the blueberries and 1 tsp. of the sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing the berries with a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened about 6 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10-15 minutes.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.

Whisk the remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until thick and smooth, about 45 seconds.

Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined.

Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg mixture and the remaining 1 cup blueberries into the flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be very lumpy with a few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups 1/2 full with batter and top with a teaspoon or so of the cooked berry mixture. Use a toothpick and swirl together. Divide the remaining batter between muffin cups. The batter should completely fill the cups and mound slightly. Divide the remaining cooked berry mixture between muffin cups. Use a toothpick and gently swirl the berry filling into the batter using a figure-eight motion. Sprinkle the lemon sugar evenly over the muffins.

Bake until the muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-18 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through. Cool.

I store the muffins overnight in the pan covered with a lightweight tea-towel as I like the topping to stay crunchy. Eat these up in a day or two.

This lemon raspberry cake is full of flavor. A light and fluffy lemon-flavored batter is topped with fresh red raspberries, a cookie-like streusel and drizzled with lemon icing. The icing is optional, as the cake is delicious without it.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Bake in a 9-inch springform pan

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour*

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice from 2 large lemons

1 tbsp lemon zest

2 cups fresh raspberries (don’t use frozen)

For the Streusel:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup butter- room temperature

Make lemon glaze after cake has cooled.

Lemon Glaze

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon water

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar. Beat in the melted butter and 1 tablespoon water.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to the batter and whisk until just combined.

Add lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and spread evenly. Top with raspberries and spread evenly. The raspberries should be distributed in a single layer so that they are not too crowded.

To make the streusel, combine flour, sugar, lemon zest, and butter in a bowl. Mix for 2-3 minutes until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture is no longer like sand and more like crumbly dough. Distribute the streusel evenly over the raspberries.

Bake for about 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake rest for about 15 minutes then remove springform ring and let cool completely.

After cake has cooled, drizzle the lemon glaze randomly over cake with a spoon.

* Make your own cake flour at home: Take one level cup of all-purpose flour, remove two tablespoons, and then add two tablespoons of cornstarch back in. Sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before adding it.

We Alaskans cram every waking moment of our short summer with fishing, entertaining, gardening, recreating and having fun with the kids out of school. By the time hunting season rolls around and the Other Fisherman is at his secret moose camp, I’m more than ready to kick back a little in the evening and enjoy a yummy home-made dessert.

Enjoy the sunsets and watch for the northern lights.

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