Summer in Portland is amazing. It really is. I know, I know–Portlanders can get a little obnoxious with how “amazing” everything-Portland is, but honestly, a Portland summer is one of the best things going.
When we first moved here 9 years ago, I was very happy with the rain. We arrived at the end of August, we had a beautiful fall, but when the rains began in late October, I was in heaven. As a Southern California girl, I was always starved for rain. the weather just felt monotonous. I always loved the 2 weeks of rain we’d get in February and pout when it was over. So when the rains finally moved on and summer arrived, I didn’t know what I was in for.
Days and days would pass of sunshine, blue, blue skies with a fraction of LA’s air pollution, soft breezes, and temperatures in the low to mid 80’s. I kept asking people, “so when does summer get here?” I was waiting for the wretched heat and smog that hung over every summer I had known like a dog’s sweaty, smelly breath. But people would look at me with an odd expression–“what do you mean, ‘when does summer get here’? It’s here! This is it!”
It took a while for it to sink in that yes, summer really could be this perfect. Of course we have our heat waves, of course we have days of pollution (usually smoke from forest fires or grass burning), but honestly, most days are simply as perfect as if they were ordered from a catalog.
So as a tribute to our incredible summers, I have developed an incredible summer cake: the Blackberry Lemonade Cake. Blackberries are plentiful here in Oregon–for those who are not local, they are literally billowing along the shoulders of roads, through green spaces, and any unclaimed dirt. About this time of year, the sun has warmed their deep purple skin enough to make them unbearably sweet, making them the perfect star of this cake.
The blackberries become a syrup that is soaked in soft lemon cake, which is then graced by tart-sweet French lemon cream. The blackberry syrup is then folded into the buttercream, creating a luscious lilac frosting that has no need for artificial flavors or colors–nature made them perfect already.
With the sweet-tart flavors of blackberries and lemons, this cake is everything summer should be. But like summer, it’s fleeting! If you’d like one to grace the table of your next summer event, just let me know!