Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Berry Cake

Happy Fourth of July!
I was in charge of dessert this year for our Fourth of July celebration at the lake. I really wanted to make the beautiful berry cake with the biscuit crust on the cover of this month's Martha Stewart magazine. So I followed the directions for making the biscuit, and left the dough in my fridge overnight. I baked it the next day. YUCK! It was raw in the center, and done too much on the outside. So I had to throw the whole thing out and start again. I gave up on Martha altogether, and went back to my Ina, who never lets me down. Here is her recipe for Strawberry Country Cake, which was absolutely delicious. I left out the orange zest because I feel that it can be too overpowering sometimes. Two great things about this cake- one, you bake once and get 2 desserts out of it, and two the cake freezes beautifully, so you can make it way in advance, then just defrost it when you need dessert. Whip up the whipped cream, cut up some berries, and you're all set. I added blueberries in mine to set the red,white and blue mood.

Summer Berry Cake

For the cake batter- this makes 2 8 or 9 inch rounds, which will make 2 dessert cakes. Freeze one and save it for later.
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling for each cake:
1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 pint blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans. Then line them with parchment paper and butter and flour the lined pans.

Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the sour cream, zests, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth.

Pour the batter evenly into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature. If using 1 cake, wrap the second well and freeze.

To make the filling for one cake, slice the strawberries and combine with the blueberries in a large bowl. Add sugar to taste, and let sit for 10 minutes. Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm. Slice one of the cakes in half with a long, sharp knife. Place the bottom slice of the cake on a serving platter, spread with 1/2 the whipped cream and scatter with the berries. Cover with the top slice of the cake and spread with the remaining cream. Decorate with berries.