Monday, August 11, 2014

Simple White Cake with Berries

This always seems to happen in August. There’s so much great fresh stuff to eat which should mean so much great fresh stuff to write about, but then I go on vacation and go out to dinner for my birthday and then we go out for my husband’s birthday.  Before I know it, there are cobwebs all over The Messy Apron and one might easily get the impression that I’ve forgotten how to cook.

Well, that’s not the case at all, of course. In fact, I’ve been making something rather celebratory and delicious: a birthday cake of sorts, although a rather informal one that wouldn’t require an occasion to be enjoyed.

This is a simple white cake to which I added some delicious berries before baking. This recipe, which comes from The Complete Book of Baking from Pillsbury, is similar to any white cake recipe I’ve found in other baking books. The cake is light and fluffy and utterly, if simply, delicious. You could use your favorite recipe if you have one, or even a cake mix. While the original instructions are for a round layer cake, I made a 13 x 9-inch cake, which may be a little less fancy, but, let’s face it, it’s less work, too.

I just sprinkled sliced strawberries, raspberries and blueberries onto the top of the unbaked cake batter and baked the cake, then drizzled a lemon glaze over the top after it cooled. The berries add a lot of wonderful tart-sweet flavor to the cake, which can get away without frosting, but is quite lovely with a drizzle of lemon glaze. I used fresh strawberries and raspberries, but only had frozen blueberries, which worked just fine. Since the frozen berries are okay, here, this cake could be enjoyed long after berry season is over.

I made this cake as a sort of belated birthday cake for my husband and myself. (Our birthdays are just a few days apart, so two cakes are calorically impractical.) It’s delicious enough for a celebration, and we were very happy with it as such. It’s decidedly unfussy, however, and I would suggest you not wait for a celebration to bake one up. Better yet, celebrate the berries themselves with cake! It won’t be summer much longer!

White Cake with Berries and Lemon Glaze

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
5 egg whites
1 ½ cups berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray or grease it with butter. Sprinkle with flour and distribute the flour all over the bottom and sides of the pan. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer (or another bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using the paddle attachment stir a few seconds to combine the ingredients. Add the butter and mix on medium speed to cream the butter.

3. Add the milk. Beat on low speed until moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, almond extract and egg whites. Beat at medium speed 2 more minutes.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Distribute the berries over the top of the batter. Gently press the berries into the batter.

5. Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a moist crumbs attached. Cool completely.

6. To make the glaze: place the powdered sugar in a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice until it is completely smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cake. Let stand until dry. Cut the cake into squares and serve.

Makes about 12 servings.

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