There’s a very quick summer cake that has appeared all over the Internet in the past year, maybe even earlier. It was published in the much loved but now defunct Gourmet Magazine about a year ago. It was called Raspberry Buttermilk Cake and I admit to having made it with raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and blueberries, as well as to having added other ingredients, from lemon zest to almonds. Many more variations are worth exploring. The point is that the base is simple and terrific, and completely adaptable.
The batter is spread into a prepared pan and the fruit simply arranged on top, sprinkled with sugar to form a crispy crust. As the cake bakes, the fruit sinks. (The key here is the interaction of baking soda and buttermilk.) There’s another basic recipe like this, which I’ll post for the larger stone fruits like nectarines, plums and apricots later in the season. Same principle, but a sturdier base with more crumb.
Here are two versions: the basic raspberry one, and one that used two kinds of cherries (Rainier and Bing, just because that’s what I had left over from something else) as well as almonds. If you use blueberries, consider adding a tsp or so of lemon juice to the batter instead of the vanilla, plus grated lemon zest. The beauty of this cake is its simplicity.
Summer Cake adapted from Gourmet June 2009
1 c all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ c (1/2 stick) softened butter
2/3 c sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or substitute lemon juice for blueberry version)
1 large egg, room temperature
½ c buttermilk, room temperature
1 c fresh berries or pitted and halved cherries
Optional additions: lemon zest, slivered almonds
1 tbsp granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, preferably with a removable bottom.
Sift (or whisk) together the dry ingredients.
Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat well.
At low speed or by hand, mix in the flour alternatively with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour (flour in three batches, buttermilk in two) until just combined.
Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan. Scatter fruit evenly over the top (avoiding the edges) and sprinkle on about a tbsp of sugar.
Bake 25-30 minutes until it tests done. Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.