A Sweet Treat For a Hot Day

On Saturday, Tom and I went to a cookout hosted by one of his friends. I offered to make Lemon-Almond Buttermilk Loaf with Balsamic Strawberries. The lemon and strawberry flavors are refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. The bread recipe includes buttermilk, ground almonds, and lemon zest. To be honest, the plain baked bread is fine, but not all that interesting... and maybe even a little dry. But what takes this dessert to the next level is the application of a sweet lemon syrup and the accompaniment of strawberries tossed with balsamic vinegar. When the bread is still warm from the oven, you poke holes all over the top of the loaf with a skewer and then brush on a mixture of sugar dissolved in freshly squeezed lemon juice. The syrup gets absorbed into about the top third of the loaf, and creates a layer of moist, sweet, lemony goodness.

The bread is served with strawberries that are mixed with sugar and balsamic vinegar and allowed to sit at room temperature for a few hours. People who taste the strawberries usually can't tell that they've been mixed with balsamic. Instead, they just comment on how flavorful the strawberries are. The balsamic enhances the natural flavors of the fruit and magnifies their natural flavor. (Tip: this is also a great application for strawberries that are just so-so... The balsamic vinegar makes any strawberry look and taste better.)

The juice given off by the strawberries helps moisten the bread and creates a lovely presentation for the finished dessert.