Growing up in Colorado, I was able to experience 4 “true” seasons. In the fall, I would rake up giant piles of red, orange, yellow, and brown leaves and jump into the middle, scattering the leaves and ruining all my hard work. But it was totally worth it. In the winter my brother and I would sled down the snowy hill next to our house, heedlessly focusing on nothing but the thrill of flying down the slope atop our blue plastic sled. Once we nearly gave our mother a heart attack when we couldn’t stop and slid into the road, right in front of a car, and down into our neighbor’s snow-covered vegetable garden. Pretty sure we scarred my mom–and the driver–for life. Not to mention the vegetable garden. Spring, though it often came late, brought sweet-smelling flowers and the occasional bee sting. I could always tell that spring was coming when the crabapple tree in our side yard turned a brilliant scarlet, full of new blossoms. Summers were dry and brutally hot, with the exception of evening thunderstorms that shook the house and lit up the dark-clouded sky. I used to love standing in the front doorway, watching the rain come down in sheets and counting the seconds between the lightning and thunder. Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest.
Now almost nine years a Washingtonian, I can identify about 10 different types of rain, leap out of bed like a little kid whenever it snows during winter nights (the number of which I can count on one hand), and have learned to say goodbye to the sun from about October to May. Don’t get me wrong, there are definite advantages to living in a mild climate, but I’m still a Colorado girl at heart. However, no matter how much I miss skiing down the Rocky Mountains and inner tubing through the Colorado River, I can’t help but feel lucky when I hear about the sweltering summer that most of the US has been having this year. Some of my Colorado friends were on call to evacuate their houses as relentless forest fires swept through the state, and I know that many other states have reached record highs. Here on my little island, we reached a toasty 66 degrees today, and according to my thermometer the highest temperature we’ve had all summer is a whopping 74 degrees. Jealous yet?
So even though it doesn’t really feel like summer here, and I actually turned the heat on in my car this morning (it was 54 degrees out, okay!), I’m still trying to make it feel like it’s July and not March. Take this Blueberry Coconut Cake with Lemon Sauce, for example. Blueberries, coconut, and lemon all scream SUMMER, and this sheet cake is perfect to bring to a group event like a backyard BBQ or a picnic at the beach. It’s just like a moist, fluffy blueberry muffin in cake form, topped with a layer of toasted coconut and drizzled with lemon sauce. My dad couldn’t stop raving about how good that “blueberry coconut thing” was, and the lemon sauce was to die for. It’s good enough to eat by the spoonful! Not that I know from experience, or anything. This cake is fast, very easy, feeds a crowd, and best of all, tastes like a little piece of summer. Maybe if I close my eyes while eating a slice for dessert, I can forget that it’s 55 degrees outside, has been 80% cloud cover all day, and my hopes of maintaining a tan this year are about zero. The fact that it just started to rain is not helping. I might need two slices… :)
Blueberry Coconut Cake with Lemon Sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups fresh or unthawed frozen blueberries
2 Tbs flour
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbs + 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup water
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. If using glass pan, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. If using aluminum pan, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vegetable oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients and fold in the wet ingredients using a rubber spatula.
Toss blueberries with the 2 tablespoons of flour and gently fold into the batter. Spread the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with flaked coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes if using an aluminum pan, 35-40 minutes if using glass, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack.
For the sauce, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest. Slowly whisk in the water until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking often, and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes at a full boil or until mixture has thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in butter and lemon juice. Keep the sauce warm or at room temperature.
When ready to serve, cut the cooled cake into slices and drizzle each piece with the lemon sauce.
(Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)