SOUTHERN SUMMERLAND

Honeysuckle Pound Cake | for the love of the south

There is something about the arrival of another Southern summer that makes me feel like a child again. Summers in the South seemingly last forever, but nevertheless, I am always sad to see them go and look forward to their return. One of the first signs of the season draws me in as the heady aroma of honeysuckle fills the air during my evening walks. Immediately, I am transported to my grandmother’s backyard in Louisiana.

Honeysuckle Pound Cake | for the love of the south

At the onset of any summer evening, I could be found running around barefoot and wide-eyed in faded jean shorts and a white tee shirt catching fireflies in a wide-mouth Mason jar. As soon as I had as many blinking insects as my heart desired, I strolled over to the honeysuckles, which were nestled next to a blooming wild blackberry bush. I put down my treasure trove of fireflies and plucked winter white and buttercup yellow flowers off the emerald branch. Gently, I pinched the end of the green stem and slowly pulled out the center filament until a sweet bead of nectar rested at the end of the thread. Quickly licking the saccharine syrup off the end of the filament, I continued with a few more flowers until my summer sweet tooth was satisfied. The path back to my grandmother’s house was faintly illuminated by the light of the fireflies softly flickering away from the jar in my hand.

Honeysuckle Pound Cake | for the love of the south

Creating recipes using one of my favorite scents reminds me of being a child again, skillfully capturing the scent of a honeysuckle in a Mason jar as if they were fireflies at the arrival of another glorious Southern summer.

Honeysuckle Simple Syrup | for the love of the south

Recipe: Honeysuckle + Lemon Pound Cake

Makes 1, 9×5” Loaf Cake

Note: To make the Honeysuckle Simple Syrup combine 1 cup of recently boiled water to 1 cup of granulated sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Add 1 1/2-2 cups of rinsed honeysuckle flowers and ½ of a lemon that has been zested and sliced into thin slivers to the simple syrup. (Make sure to include the lemon zest as well.) Allow the syrup to steep and cool at room temperature. Once the syrup has cooled, strain and stash the Honeysuckle Simple Syrup in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Any leftover syrup can be added to lemonade or sweet tea!

If you are allergic to tree pollen, skip the honeysuckle simple syrup and substitute warmed orange blossom honey where the syrup is used in the recipe.

1 ½ cups (190g) of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

2 tablespoons (30ml) of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup (see note), plus 1/3 cup

1/3 cup (80ml) of buttermilk or plain yogurt

2 tablespoons of freshly grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)

½ cup (100g) of granulated sugar

½ cup (95g) of raw cane sugar

½ cup (120ml) of light olive oil (not extra virgin)

2 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×5” loaf pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a glass-measuring cup, combine 2 tablespoons of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup and buttermilk (or yogurt).

In a large mixing bowl, add lemon zest, granulated sugar, and raw cane sugar. Rub the zest and sugars together with your fingertips. Whisk in the oil until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the cake batter, beginning and ending with the flour.

Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan; tap the pan on the countertop a few times, releasing any bubbles in the batter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake tester comes out clean.

When the cake has finished baking, let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and invert onto a cooling rack with a tray underneath. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick and brush 1/3 cup of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely while absorbing the syrup. Enjoy!

 

 

 

THE PEACH TRUCK

Poached Peaches

There are few joys in life that are greater than the first peach of the season. A wave of childlike giddiness rushed over me as Michael and I pulled into the Franklin Farmer’s Market on a steamy Saturday morning. The Peach Truck sign caught my attention, and I immediately turned the wheel of the car in its direction (did I mention I was riding shotgun? My hand should have been slapped, but I believe Michael was amused at me bouncing out of my seat in excitement, and all was forgiven.) Ten peach enthusiasts were in line in front of me, all beading at the brow, but no one seemed to mind as long as we could take home a brown paper sack filled with fresh peaches.

Fresh Peaches

Patient waiting paid off as a young lady handed me a brown paper bag stamped with a tiny farmer’s truck and The Peach Truck logo. She let me know I should keep the peaches in the paper bag on the counter until Monday and let them sit in the fridge to ripen the fruit. Politely, I nodded knowing full well the moment I was out of her line of sight one was going directly into my mouth.  Michael dealt with the “business” side of things and handed the sweet lady cash for my treasures. By the time he turned around, I was nose deep in the bag, inhaling the honey and flowery aromas coming from the peaches.

Fresh Peaches

Immediately my mind began racing with endless possibilities: peach tart, peach pie, roasted peaches, muddled peach lemonade, grilled peaches with brown sugar. On and on the list went, and finally, the perfect preservation of the peaches pervaded. Vanilla poached peaches. Poaching peaches slightly softens the fruit and allows for the skin to easily be peel away, exposing the blushing flesh. It’s the next best thing to eating a peach right off The Peach Truck. It’s the best dessert for the greatest summer fruit: the precious peach.

Recipe: Inspired by Seasons by Donna Hay

Serves 6

Note: Add leftover vanilla pods to sugar for vanilla sugar or save in a bottle of rum or vodka in the pantry for at least 6 weeks and you have your own homemade vanilla extract! Also, the sweet vanilla-peach infused syrup is wonderful in sweet tea.

2 pounds of ripe peaches, thoroughly washed

3 cups of water

2 cups of sugar

1 vanilla bean

Make a long slit through the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out all of the vanilla seeds. Reuse the leftover pod for vanilla sugar or homemade vanilla extract.

Slice a shallow “x” into the base of each peach. Set aside.

Place water, sugar and vanilla seeds in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Add the peaches to the poaching liquid. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the peaches are soft to the touch. Take the saucepan off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Peel the peaches, place in a sterilized Mason jar and pour the syrup over the poached peaches. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. Serve over ice cream, muddled in lemonade, or all by themselves!