High Country Baking: Berry-lemon cake
What foods are you craving now that summer’s here? If you’re like me, you want fresh tastes, seasonal ingredients and simple dishes; this cake is a good example. It’s a one-layer beauty with a moist, dense texture, lemony vanilla flavor and a crown of whipped cream and berries — easy to eat and pretty to look at. Preparing it is close to effortless, whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ones in another, then combine the two. You don’t even need a mixer.
It’s made in a springform pan with an 8-inch diameter. I planned to use the one I own that claims to be just that. It’s even engraved with the numeral eight on the bottom. Yet when I measured it, the diameter was only 7 inches. Luckily, I have another one marked 8 ½, with a diameter that measures 8 inches that I could use for this recipe. I recommend you check the size of your pan. Measure a round pan with a ruler or tape measure, stretching it directly across the center, from inside lip to inside lip. If you find yours isn’t truly 8 inches in diameter, you can still use it for this recipe, but the batter will probably take longer to bake, and once baked, the cake may have a slightly denser texture.
Adjusted for elevations of 7,000 feet and above
Make in an 8-inch shiny metal springform pan
1 1/3 cups plus 3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or ¼ teaspoon lemon oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 cup mixture of fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries
3-4 tablespoons lemon curd, optional
1 ½ -2 cups a combination of blueberries and sliced strawberries
Granulated sugar, to taste
1 ½ cups sweetened whipped cream
Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center. Open your springform pan, flip the bottom over, so the raised rim faces down, and relock it in place. This will make it easier to cut and serve the cake. Your knife and serving utensil won’t catch on the rim. Grease it with a baking spray that contains flour, place a circle of parchment in the bottom, and grease the parchment. Set the pan aside.
Make the cake: Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine well. In a smaller bowl, whisk all the egg, buttermilk, melted butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla to blend them. Gently stir this mixture into the dry ingredients. When only a little of the flour mixture is still visible, start folding in the berries, stopping as soon as the dry ingredients are uniformly moistened and the berries are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Don’t overmix or the cake will be tough. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, leveling and smoothing it as you go.
Bake the cake: Place the filled pan in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The batter doesn’t color or rise much, but the edges will darken and start to pull away from the pan when you nudge them. Start checking after 20 minutes of oven-time.
Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, (it will deflate as it cools) and then carefully remove the pan sides. When the cake is completely cool, invert it onto a cardboard cake circle or a serving plate and gently remove the parchment paper liner. The flat bottom is now the top of the cake.
Top and serve the cake: If using the lemon curd, spread a thin layer of it over the cake’s top. If you’re not serving it immediately, cover and refrigerate it for up to a day. An hour or so before serving, taste the berries to determine their sweetness, and if needed, toss them with sugar, a little at a time, until they reach a pleasing level. Refrigerate them until serving time. Right before serving, circle the edge of the cake with piped rosettes of the whipped cream and pile the berries in the center. If you don’t want to pipe the whipped cream, pile it on the cake’s top and place the berries decoratively in its center. Cut and serve the cake immediately and store any leftovers, covered, in the fridge, for up to a day.
This recipe is a variation of one published by TasteofHome.
Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at email@example.com.
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