Monday, October 25, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake

Two weeks ago, I had a lovely Friday lunch in a cute neighborhood cafe with a friend. The food was comforting (mmm wild boar shepherd's pie), but the real attraction was the baked goods piled behind the glass counter. The whole display was, well, rather American. There were buckets of cookies bigger than my head and five different types of bundt cakes. Despite my usual preference for feather light sponge cakes and delicate custards, I have a soft spot for moist, buttery cakes, especially when they are richly perfumed with citrus and spices.

The slice of lemon bundt cake I bought was...disappointing. I could taste the lemon, but it was missing the lemon fragrance. As commonplace as they are, lemons and oranges have surprisingly elegant aromas (Close your eyes the next time you smell a lemon). Forget passionfruit and lychee, citrus fruits need to take back their status as exotic fruits!

I went home and consulted my trusty America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. It might not be fancy or European, but when it comes to American baked goods, ATK rocks. I used their recipe for lemon bundt cake and added some blueberries to the batter. The cake at the cafe had a soaking syrup, so I made up one with some vodka added for extra flavor (I'm sure lemon has alcohol soluble flavonoids...). I didn't have enough lemon juice left for a glaze, so I made up an almond glaze, which complements the lemon very nicely.

The cake was moist and fragrant, with a tight crumb. It was fantastic paired with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
Cake recipe adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Pan Coating:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest

Soaking Syrup:
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vodka

Almond Glaze:
2/3 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/12 teaspoon almond extract (a few drops really)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. With a pastry brush, coat the pan with butter/flour mixture.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vanilla, and buttermilk. In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolk.
3. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together until fragrant. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy (I find a few whacks with the rolling pin does wonders with softening butter. It's a Le Cordon Bleu trick.). Beat in eggs in two batches until incorporated.
4. Alternately mix in the flour (divide in three parts) and buttermilk (divide in two parts), starting and ending with the flour.
5. Pour batter (it should be fairly thick) into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.
6. While the cake is baking, make the soaking syrup by combining all the ingredients together. I find it helpful to microwave it for 30 seconds to melt the sugar. Once the cake comes out of the oven, poke it a few times with a skewer or knife, then pour the soaking syrup on top.
7. Wait until the cake is cooled completely, then remove the cake from the pan. Warm, soaked cake will likely crumble and fall apart if you attempt to invert it from the pan.
8. Make the glaze by whisking all the ingredients together. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the consistency is thick (it really depends on how thin you like your glaze to be when you use it). Pour the glaze onto the cake in a decorative pattern.

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