For this week's baking experiment, I wanted to make something out of Heidi Swanson's new book, Super Natural Cooking. There were a few really great sounding recipes, but I wanted to use one that I had most of the ingredients for so I ended up settling on the Raspberry Curd Swirl Cake - only I had strawberries, not raspberries, so I gave that a try instead.
My final cake was actually delicious, unfortunately it didn't really turn out like it was supposed to - quite a few things went wrong, but ultimately they were happy accidents. The butter was supposed to be at room temperature, but it was really hot out that day and mine was at butter-soup temp and wouldn't cream correctly (I shouldn't have even bothered), I took it out of the oven too soon (it was getting late and I was impatient), and I didn't grease the pan properly (should've used a parchment paper sling, like my gut told me to). While it was baking, it looked wonderful, but while it was cooling it completely collapsed. I was pretty devastated, and contemplated rushing out and buying all the ingredients to start over again, but then I tasted it, and it was delicious. It was insanely moist (like bread pudding), the whole-wheat resulted in a delicious loaf, and the smell was amazing. I want to try it again, but I'm almost afraid that it will turn out correctly this time. If you want to check out the recipe and hope for your own happy accidents,
Raspberry Curd Swirl Cake
Reprinted with permission from Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients Into Your Cooking by Heidi Swanson. Copyright 2007. Published by Celestial Arts.
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
3/4 tsp fine-grain sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temp.
1 1/2 cups natural cane sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh raspberries halved - optional
3/4 cup raspberry curd (aka raspberry butter)
powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350F and position the racks in the middle of the oven. Choose your cake pan (8x4 loaf, or 9 or 10" spring form) and butter in generously.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, use a stand mixer or handheld mixer to beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat again. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl once or twice during the process so you end up with a nice, even, creamy blend. Beat in the eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next and scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. If you don't beat well enough at this stage, you'll end up with little butter sugar flecks throughout the batter in the end. Stir in the vanilla until evenly incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and gently fold them in by hand just until the last of the flour barely disappears; don't over mix. Fold in the berries.
- Scoop half of the cake batter into the prepared pan. It's pretty thick, so you may need to spread it around a bit with the back of a spoon. Now spread about half of the curd over the batter, staying clear of the sides of the pan. Add the rest of the batter and smooth the top until level, then plop big spoonfuls of the remaining curd on top of the cake (again staying clear of the sides of the pan). Drag a butter knife through the curd in a loop-de-loop motion so the cake batter swirls with the curd to create a marbled effect.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake bounces back a bit when you push the top of it with your finger. The baking time will vary depending on pan size and shape. The cake should be very moist, so don't overcook it; trust your eyes, nose, and instinct. Let cool in the pan. Slice and serve at room temperature, dusted with a bit of powdered sugar and with a side of softly whipped cream if you like.
Serves 12 picnickers.