This recipe was originally published in Gourmet magazine in 2000. My mom somehow obtained a clipping of the recipe, and I’m glad she did because twenty years later, it’s still one of our favorite summer cakes. I’ve since adapted it—adding a crackly sugar topping and reducing the quantity of berries. Don’t worry, though, it’s still bursting with fruit. So much so that I’ve dubbed it a buckle, from the way the batter buckles under the weight of the berries. It’s highly snackable and travels well, so pack it up for a picnic, the beach, or a summer barbecue. The “snowy” sugar topping, adapted from Shauna Sever’s Midwest Made, doesn’t dissolve into the batter and adds a fun effect to the surface as well as a welcome crunch to each bite. ―Polina
MAKES 12 SERVINGS
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
4 ½ cups (about 18 ounces) mixed fresh or frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (see Note)
2 ½ cups (300 g) cake flour, sifted, or 1 3/4 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for tossing (see Note)
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar, divided
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or water
Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
NOTE: When using frozen berries, be mindful that the batter will be a bit harder to spread, but the baking time should be the same.
NOTE: Using cake flour will make the cake airier and more tender—in a pinch, all-purpose flour will work.
1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. If you’re not planning to serve the cake from the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper.
2 In a small saucepan, warm the butter and heavy cream over low heat until the butter melts. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with 2 teaspoons flour to lightly coat.
3 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar on high speed until thick ribbons form, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the lemon zest, baking powder, vanilla, and salt; mix to combine. Pause the mixer and add half of the flour and half of the cooled butter. Mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour and butter mixture and beat on medium speed until the batter is thick and sticky, 30 to 45 seconds. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold in the berries until just combined.
4 Dollop the batter evenly into the prepared pan and use a spatula or the back of a spoon to carefully smooth out in an even layer without crushing the berries too much. Put the remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar into one small bowl and the lemon juice into a second. Dip your fingertips into the lemon juice and work them through the sugar to make it clump slightly, like snow (you might have to dip your fingers one or two more times). Evenly top the cake with the snowy sugar.
5 Bake until the top is golden, the berries begin to bubble slightly, and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and serve the cake warm or at room temperature with ice cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream. This cake keeps well wrapped at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
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Everyday Cake by Polina Chesnakova