Summer is for sun-soaked sand. It’s is for sipping on fruity iced drinks and tackling the books that pile up over a busy year. Summer is for cherries. Mom always has a bowl of them sitting on the kitchen island, another perk to being home again that I fully cashed in on.
I was blessed enough to enjoy all of these things during one last hurrah at the end of summer… in many senses, the end of an era of summers. Next year I’ll be staying in Europe, hunting for internships, then for a job, or perhaps wandering nomadically full-time. Real life is rushing at me relentlessly, and in many ways I’m eager to lock horns with it—but the lifelong student mindset of built-in summer breaks will be hard to part with. The off-season will become a luxury instead of a birthright, but here’s to hoping that I’ll just appreciate it that much more.
For nearly a decade I’ve been celebrating the end of summer with one of my dearest friends. We’ve shared middle-school crushes, bad science teachers, and innumerable playdates. We share a psychoanalytic eye, a weakness for wordplay, an August birthday. Each summer we part towards increasingly distinct paths, but always with the comfort of knowing next summer’s rendezvous will feel just like that first sleepover.
Perhaps above all, we will always share a special love for pretty baked goods and dainty cake buntings. As we reclined on the beach with our deliciously legal 21st birthday drinks in hand (see my previous post on Pimm’s for the recipe to these pretty mason-jarred beauties), I couldn’t have imagined a better way to celebrate—until we cut into her beautifully ombré-layered cake later that evening.
Cherry Nectarine Almond Crumble
(makes one 8×8)
• 2 cups cherries, pitted
• 1 organic nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced
• 1 ½ cup natural cherry juice
• 2 t arrowroot powder / tapioca starch
• 2 t vanilla extract
• pinch of salt
• 1 cup organic rolled oats
• ½ cup ww flour
• ½ cup almond meal
• ¼ t cinnamon
• pinch of salt
• ¼ cup neutral oil
• ¼ cup agave
• handful of raw almonds, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350ºF and place a pan on the bottom rack to catch any drips.
Toss nectarines and cherries together in a baking dish, layered and spread evenly.
Heat cherry juice in a saucepan until simmering. Separately, whisk together some warm water and thickener until dissolved well. Add this mixture into the simmering juice, stirring constantly to prevent clumps. Bring to a low boil and reduce until thick (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, stirring in vanilla, sugar, and salt. Pour over the fresh fruit sitting in the baking pan.
Mix together dry topping ingredients, then stir in the oil and agave until the right consistency is achieved—sticky enough to clump, but dry enough to crumble evenly over the fruit mixture. Top with a handful of roughly chopped almonds before popping into the oven.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Divine when spooned out warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Also in the wake of turning 21, I officially joined the 21st century by making myself a Twitter handle. I’ve been postponing the inevitable for years, but now that a career in the design world is becoming more and more of a reality, I figured it was time to man up and do it. Feel free to follow along as I embarrass myself with misdirected hashtags and clumsy digital fumbling—I’ve added an icon near the top of the page or you can click through here @irina_wanders!