Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Perfect Summer Party Cake

I'll always be known among my friends and family as the one who always brings dessert to the party.  I suppose that's why halfway through my yearlong diet program, I'm not losing nearly as many pounds and inches as I had hoped to by now.  What can I say?  When I make a dessert, it's "go big or go home."  I could make some kind of reduced-calorie approximation of my favorite desserts, but they wouldn't taste nearly as good.  I'd rather make something delicious baked with real butter and sugar, then share it with friends.

I am working on some program-compliant desserts for more casual, everyday consumption.  I will one day do a post on them, but I just never get around to getting the recipes properly made and posted.

When it comes to desserts it's not secret I'm a chocolate gal.  To me chocolate is two of the four food groups (yes, two).  Even so, my craving brain sometimes goes on a different trajectory and I want something that isn't chocolate.  Often my craving brain finds itself longing for lemons.  I love lemon pound cakes and buttery lemon bars and there are times when I just have to have them.  I never know when the lemon mood will strike.  For example, when I was tasting cakes for my wedding, I tried a very tasty lemon cake, which I rejected as a possible wedding cake because I really wanted one of the chocolate ones.  Had I gone to that tasting a week later, it's possible I would have served lemon cake at my wedding.  

I was tossing around a few ideas for what to make for a party this weekend.  I had some recipes I wanted to play with.  My traditional side wanted to do something rich and chocolatey.  My non-traditional side was once again thinking lemons.  Although chocolate is my go-to flavor for both baking and eating, there are times when nothing but lemon cake will do.  I think this time around it was Cathy who posted this gorgeous lemon cake that put me in the lemon cake mood.

Besides, the last time I had been to a party with this particular group I made a big, Nutella-filled chocolate cake.  While everyone admired it, hardly anyone ate it.  Sometimes after eating a lot of party food, big chocolate cakes are a little excessive.

I wasn't sure what kind of lemon dessert to make.  I could make traditional lemon bars.  I could also make a lemon pound cake.  I spent some time searching the internet for the perfect recipe.  Oddly enough, it was neither bars nor pound cake that ended up grabbing my attention.

This time of year, single-layer, buttery cakes filled with seasonal fruit are very popular.  I made one once with cherries for my own birthday a couple years ago.  I have similar cakes with blueberries or other berries as well.  I had a bright idea to make a cake like this flavored with lemons and topped with strawberries since strawberries are in season.

I ended up using raspberries instead because I couldn't get to the farmer's market for strawberries.  I soaked them in limoncello while I prepared the cake.  The limoncello was one of the inspirations I found online.

Another trick I learned online was to mix the sugar in the batter with lemon zest.  I blended them together really well.

The rest of the cake was standard cake-baking steps.  Cream your butter and sugar.  Add your eggs.  Add your flour and bake.

It was a very pretty cake that had a bright refreshing flavor.  It wasn't terribly moist.  I could have used a few minutes less in the oven.  I also think a tad more lemon would have been good.  Still, this cake was nearly all gone by the time I left the party.  I think you should definitely make it for your next summer party.

Raspberry Lemon Cake

  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 2 Tbl limoncello
  • 2 Sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Powdered sugar to sprinkle over the top
Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a springform pan (or use flour cooking spray).

Combine raspberries and limoncello in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In another bowl sift together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together lemon zest and sugar.  Make sure the zest is well distributed throughout.

Using a mixer on low, cream the butter into the sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, adding the next one when the previous one is mixed in.  Add lemon juice.  Fold in the flour and baking powder mixture. 

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Drain raspberries and gently press them into the top of the cake.

Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. 

Sprinkle the top of the cooled cake with sifted powdered sugar.

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