Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Daily Cake: Berry Buttermilk

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who could happily eat cake every single day, and those who save it for special occasions. I am of the eat cake today! variety, though I aspire to be a bit more measured in my approach to slabs of the soft, dense, sweet stuff.

(Of course I also hope to have enough family, children, friends, and hangers-on around that I could make magnificent cakes with piles of frosting weekly, and they would all disappear with me only having eaten the perfect bite or two. But that's a big fantasy....) 

Perhaps it is the seasons starting to change, but my hunger for cake has been pronounced. It has taken all forms: birthday cake, chocolate cake, muffins, tea cakes, pillowy scones. And most days, I've given in. It's been a bit of a carbohydrate fueled dream around here, though I've tried to slice a peach on top and call it shortcake, or douse a slice with ice cream just for good, summery measure.

Here is the cake that started it all: a Berry Buttermilk Cake borrowed from 101 Cookbooks. I made it for a friend's birthday picnic, and was purposefully restrained in my approach to this celebratory number. We were moving from picnic and wine tasting to dinner, and I knew there'd be a gussied up, candle flecked chocolate number to steal the show at the end of the night.

I wanted something vaguely sweet, that could sit alongside bread and cheese, and not mar the final sips of wine. Oh, and it had to travel well, because no one likes a cake that shows up slumped and tired looking.

This cake fit the bill -- and almost fit it too well. It is a decidedly every day cake. It begs for a dressing of some sort: I dreamed of whole milk yogurt, ice cream, or whipped cream would do too. Far from showy, it is a stable cake, more like a large, stoic scone than a dense, moist buttermilk shortcake.

I carried home half the cake at the end of the night, and the next day is where I discovered the glory of it all: crumbled on top of my morning yogurt, a slender slice mid afternoon, even a bite or two before dinner.

An every day cake! Eat cake every day? Yes!

Berry Buttermilk Cake, Adapted slightly from 101 Cookbooks. 
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup fine-grain natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled a bit
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup + berries (mixed or strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, alone. The berries add some needed moisture, so don't go too over the top, but be liberal. You'll be glad.)
3 tablespoons large grain raw sugar
Preheat oven to 400F degrees, racks in the middle. Grease and flour (or line bottom with parchment paper) one 11-inch tart/quiche/pie pan.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk, whisk in the melted butter, and the lemon zest. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the flour mixture and stir until just combined - try not to over mix.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, pushing out toward the edges. Now drop the berries across top. Sprinkle with the large grain sugar. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cake is set (or a toothpick in the center comes out clean), and a touch golden on top.
Heidi estimates it serves 12, in my opinion that was ambitious, unless your heaping on ice cream or dealing with light sweet eaters.


leslie [the whole plate] said...

i like the idea, in theory, of an every day cake. although i've never been a cake person (honestly, i had ice cream sundaes at childhood birthdays), it's a fun idea to have something we usually deem special be a part of every day.

the lemon zest looks like a great touch to this recipe!

Dawn said...

This looks terrific! Can't wait to try it myself.

Anne Zimmerman said...

See! We already have one cake lover and one who votes for special occasions only! Cake = a divisive issue (but a good one!)