Two recipes here: Basil-Nectarine Lemonade and Easy Basil-Nectarine Cake.
Sometimes, in the hottest summers months, our Backstage Baker takes a break from baking (hence our summer hiatus from posting recipes.) Also, James has been working out of town this summer on short but intense projects, with little time off. Right now, he’s out in Red Bank, New Jersey at the Two River Theater, working on a production of Moliere’s “School for Wives” directed by Mark Wing-Davy. (Check out the link here for more information.)
James has done several shows with Mark Wing-Davy: The Skriker, Troilus and Cressida and now School for Wives. During Troilus, A Shakespeare in the Park production one hot summer many years ago, the Tony award-winning actor Stephen Spinella was in the cast and shared the recipe for Basil Nectarine Lemonade. That drink became a summer favorite and inspired our Backstage Baker to grow basil on his balcony ever since. It also served as the inspiration for the Basil-Nectarine Cake below.
1 cup fresh basil
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 nectarine, sliced
Combine in sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Strain.
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cup water
Add to strained basil mixture, stir and chill.
From there, you can see how James cobbled together the recipe below — even in a limited kitchen, you can’t stop a baker from baking. After a trip to the local farmer’s market, James was inspired to make the following cake for his lucky cast:
Easy Nectarine Basil Cake
1 3/4 cups sugar ( and more for sprinkling)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup butter melted (I may get daring and substitute olive oil next time)
6 medium nectarines cubed. I left the skin of for color
2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix (Bob’s Red Mill is a good one)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, basil and melted butter. Add the cubed nectarines to mixture in bowl (coating as you go to keep them from turning brown.)
2. Mix together the baking soda and flour and add to the ingredients in the bowl. Mix well (best with a fork) until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients.
3. Pour mixture into one greased 9×13 pan or two 9″ round pans. Bake for approximately 55 minutes. At about 20 minutes into the baking, sprinkle additional sugar on the top for a crispier topping.