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There were fireflies

People are already starting to talk about summer in the past tense. And it makes me want to weep.

I am evidently the vulnerable sort. Or just a trifle prone to the dramatic. Either way, its making me a bit emotional. We're only just barely two weeks into the month of July, and I've heard the hushed mention of back-to-school. Really?

A few days ago I was innocently flicking through a clothing catalogue and noticed sleeves were getting longer than those shown a month before. And while I might have gazed longingly at a particularly-tweedy ensemble for a nanosecond, I rallied myself against that affection. Surely the season cannot be over already, before it has even really begun?

We've only had one carnival, the tomatoes are still green and I have not had nearly enough time in the pool. And the other night, there were fireflies. There is still so much of summer left.

I hope that there are days to come with time for walks on warm evenings, the sort that lead you to meander through neighborhoods until the last of the light. For strong coffee in the quiet of the early morning, when the air is already thick with heat. And opportunity to savour sunwarmed peaches, and raspberries picked by eager hands, brought home in baskets stained purple with juice.

And picnics. Days and days for picnics, please and thank you. Did I tell you? We've become the sort to picnic. Picnic folk, if you will. Give me a tree, a patch of grass, even a rock and a box of takeout, I am blissful to sit and while away a minute or an hour or an afternoon. I will find each and every possible excuse to pack up our boys, pack up some nibbles, and make our way to the great outdoors - even if that just means the backyard.

I consider this cake, this raspberry-rippled marvel you see before you, to be my sticking point, my line drawn in the sand against all of those eager to write off the season and look forward to fall.

A buttery base is drowned in an ocean of blue-black raspberries, dolloped with more batter, then covered in a nut-flecked crumble. It is a cake full of berries and peaches and it is ideal for a picnic. Pretty as it is, it is a sturdy sort of beauty. It is a cake as easily eaten out of hand as it is with a knife and fork, and truth be told, I prefer the former method. It makes for effortless picnic-ery.

No siree Summer, I'm not letting go of you yet.

Raspberry Peach Crumb Cake
Adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe, via Inn Cuisine. It is a fine dessert, a grand snack, and I'm sure nobody would sneer if it was offered alongside that aforementioned early-hour coffee. My wonderful (and super cool) nephews, ages 5 and 10, were kind enough to pick these for us - bringing in not one, but two generous harvests. Thanks to you both for your enthusiasm and stained knees.

6 ounces raspberries, fresh or frozen, I used fresh wild black ones
2 medium peaches, peeled and sliced into chunks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, cold and diced
1/3 cup sliced (flaked) almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
coarse sugar for dusting

Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, or a 10-inch springform pan.

In a medium saucepan, toss the raspberries and peaches with the cornstarch to coat. Stir in the sugar and cook over medium heat until bubbling and thick. Remove from the heat and mash the berries and peaches slightly. Take approximately 1/3 of the mashed fruit and transfer to a medium bowl. Set a sieve over the same bowl, and a little at a time, push the remaining fruit through the mesh to remove any seeds and large pulp. Remove the sieve, discard the seeds and pulp, then stir the purée to combine with the reserved fruit. Set aside to cool slightly.

For the cake, in a medium bowl stir together the sour cream, milk, egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Using fingers, two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until you have a texture that resembles coarse meal. Remove 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture to a small bowl and stir through the almonds. Set aside.

To the remaining flour mixture, whisk in the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids. Using light, quick strokes, stir until only just combined. The batter should be thick, but smooth.

Take about 2/3 of the batter and spread it across the bottom and up 1-inch of the sides of the prepared pan. Damp fingers or a wet palette knife make easy work of this. Spoon the reserved raspberry filling over the batter, gently spreading to cover and leaving a 1/2-inch border at the edge. Dollop irregular mounds of the remaining dough over the fruit layer, again using damp fingers or a wet palette knife to coax the batter to almost cover - some gaps are good. Top with the crumb topping over all and then sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons or so of coarse sugar.

Place on a sheet pan and bake in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool, in pan on a rack, for 15 minutes. Remove from the tart pan and serve at warm or at room temperature.

Makes one 10-inch cake.


• Although I have not tried it, I am certain another berry or fruit could be substituted in the filling. The original recipe asked for all raspberries, with all the pulp and seeds removed. I am one who believes that sometimes a bit of seeds is a good thing, somehow making the berries taste all the more like themselves, and so I kept some seeds for texture. By all means though, follow what is your preference.

Reader Comments (19)

We have had a cool couple of days and I have felt a whiff of fall in the air. While I love the falling leaves and pumpkins - I am so not ready for it yet! Much like you, I feel like there is so much of summer left to enjoy.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Oh man, this cake looks soo good. I really do feel for your sad summer. Who wants long sleeves in July? Not me. We've been pretty lucky out here with only a few rainy, cool days here and there. And yes, there is still so much of summer to get through. Let's not end it prematurely.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

Oh Tara, this looks delicious! I think I'll try it with the peaches we picked at the orchard last weekend and blackberries from our own bush.

I've felt myself long for fall a handful of times this summer, mainly when I am out running in the stifling heat. But then I go to the farmer's market, or out to our garden, or have a picnic in our backyard and know that I'm not ready for it to end yet either...

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea [bella eats]

No no no, summer isn't over yet! Here in England, the kids are still in school! And summer doesn't even really begin until school's out.

This cake looks absolutely wonderful - this is definitely one to bookmark and try. Thanks for sharing it.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHilary

PS: how do you think this would travel? I have dreams of making it for my mother-in-law thursday morning, wrapping it up and carrying it on a plane to florida to present to her thursday night. do you think it would make it?

and, my tart pan is just 3/4" deep...will that work?

thanks, Tara!

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea [bella eats]

This looks incredible! I will definitely be making this cake soon.

Dana, thanks so much for joining the cause of Save Summer 2009. We need as many members as possible.

kickpleat, we had some hot days last week, some requiring multiple dips in the pool and running through a sprinkler or two. But then today I put socks on. It's teasing us, I tell you, but I am holding out.

Andrea, peaches sound delicious! My only warning is that I have not tried this cake with other fruits - if you feel that you have too much filling (dependent on the juiciness of the fruit), I would say trust your best judgement. You want enough that the cake has a good layer, but not so much that it will prevent the batter from setting. Any extra filling is wonderful over ice cream, or pancakes, or just off of a spoon, really.

As for transport, I think the cake would do marvelously (and what a good Daughter-in-Law you are!). It is a moist cake, dense without heaviness, so should stand up to the travel if wrapped well. The first time I baked the cake I did so in a 9-inch pan with a 1-inch side. The cake did fit, but muffin-topped a bit over the edge (still tasty and fine, nothing actually spilled over). If yours is a 10-inch, I think it would be okay, but again trust your judgement. Let me know how it turns out!

Hilary, when are kids off school in England? Thank you for your enthusiasm over summer, I'm needing it these days! Please let me know if you do try the recipe.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertara

Oh! A PS to Andrea, or anyone worried about pan sizes. I have made this cake in a 10-inch springform as well, with fine results. You just lose the fluted edge. In all cases, I prefer to have whatever pan on a baking sheet while in the oven. I will add this note to the method.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertara

wow, this looks amazing!

summer seriously only really started a week ago in ny, so I'm nervous that it will slip away from me soon!

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Yes! I was in Target this weekend and they already have their back to school supplies out and displayed. I wanted to get a bat and beat the crap out of every cardboard cutout of those happy, new-backpack wearing children.

(and that cake looks amazing!)

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAllyson

I'm still a little grumpy about summer, since where I live we're in the 100+ degree days. It's only 107 today in Wichita!

Instead of staying outside long enough for a picnic, I think I'll grab a Mexican Popsicle from the grocery next door and sit on my front porch.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Kate

oh my.. I'm definitely gonna have to try this recipe!! I'm so happy I found your beautiful site (via Julie & Kathryn)! x Marichelle

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarichelle

Oh, I really, really like your blog. I saw your comment on Orangette, liked the image, and clicked to see what else was there. So glad I did.
I already see a lot of recipes I want to try. And I, too, am a bit obsessed with summer. It lasts a bit longer down here in Southern California, but I wouldn't mind it lasting about 9 months of the year. A month for fall, winter and spring--the rest, summer! I have lots of recent posts that are, Ode to Summer!
I'll be back.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMommy of three

haha, not to make you feel jealous or anything, but I live in Singapore, so it's always sunny here. Your pictures look sooo good by the way(:

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterflorence

Kate, we get very similar weather to NY where I am in Ontario, and so we are very much in the same boat. I feel like we're just getting into the thick of the season, and people are already acting as if the best has passed!

Allyson, I adore you for that visual.

Miss Kate, it's about to start raining here! Paletas are one of the best things about summer, or really, year-round. Mango, lime and watermelon are all faves.

Marichelle, my thanks to Julie and Kathryn for pointing you my way! Thanks for the visit.

Mommy of three, I am a big fan of fall, I will admit. I think my perfect year would be maybe 2 months winter, 3 months spring, 3 months summer, 4 months fall.

florence, thank you so much - and Singapore sounds right up my alley just about now.

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertara

Thanks to Julie, I just discovered your site. It is beautiful! I'll be coming back (specifically for the peach-raspberry coffee cake, and possibly for the zucchini bread and butters...) to savor your work some more.

August 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMama JJ

Have I said I LOVE your blog?! And this is a lovely recipe with a spectacular shot of the Raspberry Peach Crumb Cake! Yay!!!!

Summer always leaves too soon ... and I am never prepared. BTW, your blog post titles read like poetry!

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentershoe

looks really good.

August 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOLGUIS

This is a most delicious looking treat! I found your link shared on Sugar Rush. I can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

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