Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recipe: Lemon-Peel Pound Cake for the Berries

Since we’re talking about classic flavor pairings prevalent this summer, let me talk a little bit about raspberries.

That is to say, let me talk a little bit about my raspberry “problem.” Every morning as I stand at the kitchen sink drinking my coffee and surveying the backyard, it seems as though there is a new explosion of scarlet thimbles weighing down the ends of the raspberry branches. Every evening we can easily pick a full quart, with enough remaining for me to shovel handfuls into my mouth (before dinner). We made muffins, and we’ve frozen bags of them. We’ve given some away, and we’ve eaten a lot of them straight out of the berry basket. 
One evening we hosted friends from New York who were on their way to Maine for summer vacation. Searching for quick, easy recipes for the night of their stopover, I naturally pulled Dishing Up® Maine off the shelf.

This title’s already gotten attention in our Flavorful Pairs series on the blog, and the reason isn’t mysterious: New England summer produce covers the spectrum of flavors we associate with the short and glorious season. Though it’s impossible not to link Maine with those small sweet-tart blueberries it’s known for, when I saw the title of this recipe, I knew I’d found the solution to our raspberry problem.

Dessert came together easily alongside dinner prep. While our guests sipped beers and did crossword puzzles, the butter and the cream cheese quickly rose to room temperature in our warm kitchen. While the dinner occupied the oven, I squeezed and zested lemons and tossed the citrus with the creamy batter. While we ate our dinner with front and back doors of the house open to the yard and in the insufficient breeze from the fan, the cake baked, filling the house with a warm, sweet citrus smell.

I confess we defied Brooke Dojny’s instructions to let the cake cool completely before eating. I piled the raspberries, macerated with just a bit of sugar, and their brilliant juice on each slice, and the room got quiet as we ate. Tender pound cake, lemon mellowed and brightened by the tang of raspberry. The glaze gives the cake just a hint of lemony crust and sturdiness to stand up to the juice of the berries. We’ll be making this again this summer. Blueberries now popping on the bushes are next on my list (perhaps mixed with peaches), and I bet blackberries, or other combinations of favorites, would be spectacular. — Emily Spiegelman, Digital Features Editor

Lemon-Peel Pound Cake for the Berries

This intensely lemony, nicely sliceable, tender-crumbed pound cake tastes wonderful on its own, but mainly it appears in this book because it’s just the perfect vehicle for serving with summer berries and other fruits. Just stir the fruit — blueberries, sliced strawberries, or sliced peaches or nectarines — with enough sugar to sweeten, set aside at room temperature for at least an hour to allow the juices to flow, and that’s all there is to it. I like to keep this cake in the freezer all summer as berry insurance.
Yield: At least 18 slices
1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½ cups sugar, plus ¼ cup for glaze
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 3 medium lemons)
Powdered sugar

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-cup nonstick Bundt pan with butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the flour, and knock out the excess.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium-size bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy in a large bowl. Gradually beat in 1½ cups of the sugar, and continue to beat for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, and beat until just smooth. Spoon into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
  4. Bake in the center of the oven until the top is pale golden and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Unmold onto a rack set over a sheet of waxed paper.
  5. In a small saucepan heat the remaining ¼ cup sugar and the remaining 4 tablespoons lemon juice until it bubbles and the sugar dissolves. Brush the syrup over the warm cake. Cool completely, wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
  6. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar before cutting into slices, and serve.

Recipe excerpted from Dishing Up® Maine © 2006 by Brooke Dojny. All rights reserved.

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