Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Who’s MaryAnn? I haven’t a clue; I’m only acquainted with the cake pan bearing her name. It has short, fluted sides and an indented top that serves as a well to hold fillings and frostings. The pan is available on the web at Williams-Sonoma, King Arthur Flour and other sites.
Cakes baked in a MaryAnn pan are delightful to behold, with scalloped sides and raised edges that create a pretty border around whatever is within them. The one featured in this column stars a smooth, luscious lemon cream filling lathered over a sweet, slightly dense cake that echoes the citrus flavor of its topping. Sweetened raspberries crown each piece, adding pleasing color and harmonizing taste and texture.
The cake is best on the day it’s made, but if covered and refrigerated, it’s still pretty darn good a day later.
Lemon MaryAnn Cake
(Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and higher. Make in an 8- or 9-inch MaryAnn pan or a 9-inch round cake pan.)
6 tablespoons room-temperature, unsalted butter
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons superfine sugar, preferably Baker’s
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon lemon oil or the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup lemon curd, home made or commercial
Sweetened raspberries, blueberries or strawberries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center position. Generously grease and flour the pan or spray it with a vegetable oil-flour mixture.
Make the cake: Cut the room-temperature butter into 12 pieces, place them in a mixing bowl with the sugar, salt, baking powder and lemon oil, and beat with an electric mixer until very soft and almost fluffy. One at a time, add the room-temperature eggs, beating until well blended after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl often. By hand, or on the lowest speed of your mixer, gently stir in half of the flour and then the room-temperature milk and, finally, the other half of the flour. Mix only until no dry ingredients remain and the batter is smooth. Don’t overmix or the cake will be heavy.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan, leveling and smoothing the top. Tap the pan on a counter a few times to rid the batter of air bubbles and settle the batter. Bake until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Start checking at about 25 minutes, though the amount of time it takes to bake will vary, depending on the size, weight and color of your pan. Don’t overbake. Remove the cake from the oven to a rack to cool for about 5 minutes, and then invert it, remove the pan, and return the cake to the rack to cool completely.
Make the filling: Place a mixing bowl and the beaters of your electric mixer in the freezer for at least 10 minutes (it is easier to whip the cream if these are cold). Whip the cream in the cold bowl with the cold beaters until stiff peaks form. Add the 1/4 of lemon curd, and mix gently until fully blended. Sample it, and if desired, add more lemon curd to taste. Spread or pipe the filling into the well created by the MaryAnn pan or, if using cake pan, over the top of the cake, swirling it prettily. If not serving the cake immediately, cover and refrigerate it.
If the cake has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before serving. Cut the cake with a serrated knife, plate it, and top each piece with sweetened berries. The cake recipe is a variation of one from “King Arthur Flour.”
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.