Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A cake for Spring (and Breakfast)

Dear Boo,

I'm not much of a baker anymore, a fact that the Husband often laments. I first came to cooking through baking, as I think many people do, and I used to enjoy the methodical, detailed instructions and found it comforting to know that one must really follow the exact steps to come up with a successful product. No scary riffing or improvisation expected. And I've always been a very good rule follower. But over the years as I've gained some confidence in the kitchen, I've come to enjoy the freedom of trusting my taste and tweaking recipes as I go and to be increasingly frustrated by the precision, patience, and multiple dirty dishes required of baking. Coinciding with this was the mysterious disappearance of my sweet tooth, which miraculously and somewhat controversially reappeared recently without so much as a Hey, how ya been. 

Which is how I found myself making this cake. It seemed a perfect compromise for me: practically a one-bowl wonder, nicely unfussy but pretty in presentation, not too sweet as balanced by the sour lemon, and not too healthy (despite the yogurt) as balanced by the copious amounts of cream dolloped and cascading down the slice. And a very welcome taste of a very welcome new season. (There are bursting buds on the tree outside my window! They make the discarded plastic bags hanging off the branches look so whimsical!)

We ate it as dessert with Easter dinner, but it is equally appropriate with a cup of afternoon tea, or for that matter with morning coffee. I realized the next day when I brought the leftovers to work, that it suspiciously resembles the top of a muffin. And I'm just fine with that. 


The Mouse

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Cream 

Adapted by The Kitchn from Gourmet, Serves 8 

For the cake: 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2/3 cup granulated sugar 
Zest of one lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) 
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 large egg 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (whole or 2%) 
1/4 cup milk 
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw) 
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar 

For the lemon cream: 

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 tablespoons store-bought lemon curd 

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Flour the sides. 

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Place the granulated sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until it is the texture of damp sand and smells like lemon candy. Add the butter and beat in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and the egg. Add the yogurt and beat well. 

At low speed, beat in half the flour mixture until just combined. Then beat in the milk and remaining flour mixture. 

Spread batter evenly in the pan. Scatter berries over top and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar. Bake until cake is golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack and cool for 10-15 more minutes. Remove parchment and invert onto a plate. 

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer or immersion blender with a whisk attachment, beat cream and lemon curd on high speed until creamy, smooth and thick. It should be about the consistency of regular yogurt. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve cake warm or at room temperature, dolloped with lemon cream.

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