Friday, August 01, 2008

Stars and Strawberries

Last time I was at the local store that carries a gazillion variations of Bundt cake pans, I saw one with a pattern that has lots of stars. Couldn't resist. See the stars?

This morning the scholarship group met about a grant application, so I had the perfect reason to bake a bundt cake in my new pan. After lots of fun looking in this cookbook and that, I came back to one of the first that caught my eye...the Brown Sugar Bundt Cake in Dorie Greenspan's perfect book called Baking: from my home to yours. It has lots of brown sugar which makes the crust shiny and delicious with a little crunch. The cake is moist and dense but delicate at the same time. Buttermilk gives it tang and the buttah...ah the buttah..there is plenty of buttah.

A local farmer has been selling the most wonderful ripe, sweet and juicy strawberries. Sweetie bought three pint baskets on Wednesday, ate one for lunch with cheese, served us both the best part of another for Thursday breakfast, but left me one to bake with. Strawberries sounded like the perfect thing to put with this cake...and it was delicious, but the brown sugar overpowered the strawberries (perhaps I should have used light brown sugar??) so next time I'll use plums or a really assertive apple. I added the flour mixture to help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan and that's why I saved some for near the top of the pan, too. It mostly worked. There were berries throughout, although there was a band from the top that sank a lot, so maybe that wasn't the way to go. The lemon was a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the berries and the brown sugar. Next time I'll go with zest of a full lemon...especially with plums.

This cake barely had time to cool, much less sit overnight as Dorie suggests. It was a big hit with the P.E.O. women, and Sweetie was taken with it, too.

Brown Sugar Cake with Strawberries
A variation of Dorie Greenspan’s Brown Sugar Bundt Cake in Baking: from my home to yours

2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 0z.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups fresh, ripe strawberries, dice in ¼ inch dice
Zest of one half a lemon
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Glaze;
Juice of one lemon
Confectioners sugar (about 1 cup)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 – 10 inch (12 cup) Bundt or tube pan and dust the inside with flour & tap out the excess. Baker’s Joy nonstick spray works the best with Nordicware Bundt pans and lets you not do the flour part. If you have a silicone Bundt pan, don’t butter or flour it. Be sure to put the pan right on the oven rack…no baking pan underneath.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl (preferably with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape the beater and bowl well.

Put the strawberries and lemon zest and 1/3 cup of the flour mixture in a small bowl and stir gently to combine. Set aside.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Add the flour in three additions and the buttermilk in two. Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated, scraping the bowl and beater as needed. With a rubber spatula gently stir in half the berry mixture. Scrape about 2/3 of the batter into the pan, then spread the rest of the berry mixture over the batter in the pan and top with the remaining batter. Smooth the top with the spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 – 65 minutes, covering the top loosely with a foil tent if it looks like its browning too fast. Test for doneness by inserting a thin knife deep into the center of the cake..if it comes out clean it is done.

Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack

When cool, transfer to a serving plate. Stir together the lemon juice and enough confectioners sugar to make a nice glaze…not too thick. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, allowing it to pool in the Bundt indentations. Makes 12 servings.

6 comments :

Anh said...

Wow! I love cake like this. Rich and fruity!

TadMack said...

Ooh, purty!
Isn't it fun to take things to meetings? It not only gets it out of the house, it's a nice little feeling of happy to share, and to get all the good feedback from people outside your usual baking circle. This looks really tasty, and in just a little while (we are faithfully promised) we'll have more strawberries here, too. Seems late to us, but they are finally producing and are at Farmer's Markets, yay!

Peabody said...

What a fun Bundt cake pattern, they really are making some great ones lately.
We have some beauties in the local strawberry department as well, but mine seem to not make it into any baked goods...just a swimming pool of cream.

Deborah said...

I would have tons of different pans - if only I had somewhere to put them! Gorgeous cake - makes me grateful my inlaws have strawberry plants that produce all summer!

Mrs. L said...

I have a beehive pan, I so need to try this recipe in that!

Elle said...

Anh, Thanks! It is delicious.

Tadmack, Hope you have strawberries now to enjoy. I do like to take something like this so I can try a new recipe but share the calories :)

Peabody, tried the swimming pool of cream...my berries liked that, too.

Deborah, Lucky you...thats the best kind of local berry! It is a challenge to find places for the pans, but I couldn't resist this one.

Mrs. L, This would be GREAT in a beehive pan.