High-altitude baking: lemon-berry bundlette cakes
High altitudes 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 that make baking in the mountains successful.
A delightful warm-weather dessert, that’s what these little cakes are. With a pleasing lemon flavor, a moist, slightly dense crumb and a crown of sweetened fresh berries, they’re a fine ending to a picnic or a casual dinner party. And, they don’t require a lot of time in the kitchen; the cake batter is made in just one bowl, so, once your ingredients are assembled, it takes about 10 minutes to get these cuties in the oven.
Pair them with any berries you like. And, for a change, try topping them with a small scoop of lemon or raspberry sorbet and scattering a few raspberries on the plate. Why use superfine sugar? It dissolves more quickly and thoroughly, yielding a finer batter and a more moist and tender cake.
Lemon-Berry Bundtlette Cakes
Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above
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Yields 5 individual cakes
Make in a shiny metal non-stick bundtlette pan
with 1-cup capacity openings
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
¾ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
½ (a little less than) teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup whole milk or light cream, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, room temperature
Generous 2/3 cup blueberries
Generous 2/3 cup cut-up strawberries
2-3 teaspoons superfine sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. (Preheat to 325 degrees if your pan is dark metal.) Generously grease your bundtlette pan with a flour-vegetable oil baking spray (yes, even if it’s non-stick).
2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest to a mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer at its lowest speed or a whisk, combine them well. Add the milk (or cream), melted butter, canola oil, lemon juice and eggs and, on low speed, beat until no dry ingredients remain and a batter forms. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 4 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling each opening no more than two-thirds of the way to the top.
3. Bake until the tops of the small cakes spring back, the sides start to pull away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted near the center of one of the cakes comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes (baking time may be longer if you’re baking at 325 degrees). Remove the pan to a cooling rack, cool about 20 minutes, then invert the pan, tap it gently on the rack until the cakes fall out, and let them cool completely. The cakes can be frozen, wrapped airtight, at this point. Defrost before continuing with the recipe.
4. Up to three hours and at least 15 minutes before serving, combine the blueberries, cut-up strawberries and two teaspoons sugar in a small bowl and toss to combine. Give them a taste and add more sugar if desired. Either refrigerate the mixture (if made early) or let it stand, so the sugar dissolves and the berries produce some juice. Just before serving, pile some on top of each cake and strew the rest around the plated cakes.
Vera Dawson teaches high-altitude baking classes and is the author of two high-altitude cookbooks, Cookies in the Clouds and Baking Above It All (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. For questions contact Vera Dawson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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