Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring is Here/Berry Butter Cake

Although I have been feeling spring for a few weeks now, today is the first official day of Spring. And with a dinner party to go to, I decided to jump ahead a season and make a summer cake. It is Spring after all, the time of new beginnings, and these possibilities seem endless. I hate (slash love) to be cliche when I talk about Spring, but there is just something poetic about it. Winter blues turn turquoise, the 65 degrees that felt cold in the fall now feel just right, and waking up in the morning with the sun shining feels like pleasure rather than penance.
So to celebrate, I decided to make a summer berry cake with lemon curd filling. The first time I made this cake was in the 7th grade, Memorial Day weekend in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. I was there with my then best friend who also loved to bake and we unanimously picked this recipe out of that month's Gourmet. I don't know why, but I never forgot about this slightly pink cake; a moist spongy gem studded with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Today, I decided to give this recipe a face lift by slicing it in two and filling it with tart and creamy lemon curd.
It's always interesting to cook such "American" desserts for my Italian friends. Italian's are not always an easy bunch to please, they have their ways and they like to stick with them. In some ways, I would almost say that making such a sinful dessert for them may leave me with a disadvantage, I have finally made it onto the facebook message roster, it seems that people might actually (gasp) want to hang out with me. So what am I doing? Well I guess I am just doing what I love, following my heart when I feel comfortable doing so. And also, I have an advantage, as an Italian I know that even the finest most high brow Italian could never say no to this cake. Just look at it, isn't it pretty?

• I used an 11" round pan instead or the rectangular one suggested, it does lead to thinner layers but I like round cakes.
• I also could have easily doubled the curd recipe, it would have definitely given the cake an extra something.
Make the curd first and let it cool in the fridge while you assemble the cake.
• Make sure the cake is completely cooled before you cut it in half, if not it will fall apart.

Lemon Curd (from Martha Stewart Living, January 2002)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, (2 lemons)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour.

Store, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 2 days.

Three Berry Butter Cake (from Gourmet, July 2000)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 6 cups mixed berries (1 3/4 ponds) such as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13- by 9- by 2-inch metal baking pan, then line bottom with wax paper and grease paper.

Heat butter with cream in a small saucepan over low heat until melted, then cool.

Beat eggs, granulated sugar, and salt with an electric mixer on high speed until mixture is thick, pale, and forms a ribbon when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes with a standing mixer or about 12 minutes with a handheld. Add zest, baking powder, and vanilla and mix on low speed until blended.

Add 1 1/4 cups flour and half of butter mixture and mix on low speed until blended. Mix in remaining butter and 1 1/4 cups flour in same manner. Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute with a standing mixer or 2 minutes with a handheld, or until batter is thick and sticky. Add berries and carefully fold in with a rubber spatula until barely combined. (Raspberries will begin to fall apart, and batter will look slightly pink.) Spoon batter into baking pan, gently smoothing top. Bake in middle of oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack.

Run a knife around edge of cake, then invert rack over cake and flip cake onto it. Remove wax paper and reinvert onto a platter.

Just before serving, dust with confectioners sugar.


Beth said...

They would be nuts not to love this cake! I love the way the colors from all of the berries marble and run together, and lemon curd is so refreshing.

Your blog is very cute. I look forward to reading more, and welcome to The Daring Bakers!