Add bursts of bright color to Fourth of July menu

I’m not much for marking holidays with overtly festive displays, preferring instead that menus gracefully evoke the season at hand.

But I’m a sucker for Fourth of July’s red, white and blue, even planting beds of annual flowers in the color scheme. Independence Day picnics and potlucks wouldn’t be complete without fresh blueberries and strawberries with whipped cream. Maybe a bowl of bright-red cherries. If you can’t stop at patriotic-hued fruit, a potato salad with the addition of red and blue spuds also is a cinch to accomplish.

That’s because we’re entering the period for plentiful local produce, the time that home gardeners and locavore eaters hotly anticipate all year. Even potatoes, that mainstay of winter menus, are “new.” So you shouldn’t even consider a contribution to the Fourth of July cookout that doesn’t celebrate fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a dessert that will outshine all the chocolate offerings with a bright-yellow color and fresh flavor. The use of cornmeal makes it casual enough for the neighborhood block party and the perfect complement to other classic American fare. And it isn’t so delicate that it couldn’t weather sitting out for a spell on a hot day.

Blueberry-Lemon Cornmeal Cake

1 1⁄3 cups, plus 1 tablespoon, unbleached all-purpose flour, divided (plus more for the pan)

1⁄4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, sugar, divided

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1⁄2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and well dried

Position a rack in oven’s center and preheat to 350 F.

Lightly butter a 9-by-2-inch, round cake pan. Line bottom with parchment cut in a circle to fit pan, lightly flour sides and tap out excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1⁄3 cups flour, the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well-blended. In a mixing bowl, with paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat butter, lemon zest and 1 cup sugar on medium high until well-blended and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating on medium speed until just blended. Add the lemon juice with second egg (batter will appear curdled; don’t worry). Fold in half of dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, then remaining dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the blueberries with the 1 tablespoon each sugar and flour. Using a fork, mix ingredients, lightly crushing blueberries and evenly coating them with flour and sugar. After cake has baked for 15 minutes, slide oven rack out and quickly scatter blueberries evenly over top of cake (discard any flour and sugar that doesn’t adhere to berries). Continue baking until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, another 23 to 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cake cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside edge of pan. Using a dry dish towel to protect your hands, lay a rack on top of cake pan and, holding onto both rack and pan, invert cake. Lift pan from cake and peel away parchment. Lay a flat serving plate on bottom of cake and flip cake 1 more time so blueberries are on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 10 servings.

— Recipe from Fine Cooking magazine’s September 2006 issue.

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