I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’ve not been baking lately. Wait. I know what’s wrong with me. It’s been 96 degrees with 457% humidity, and I’ve been turning on the oven as little as possible. But when I came across this cake recipe from Gourmet magazine not long ago, and started reading the online comments, all two hundred and something of them, it was like they were describing the best cake in the world.
Best cake ever? Naturally I was suspicious.
One woman said she pulled the cake out of the oven, realized it wasn’t cooked in the middle, so she put it back in the oven, baked it some more, and it was perfect. Someone else said she used vegetable oil instead of butter, and it was also perfect. Yogurt for buttermilk. Blackberries instead of raspberries. Or blueberries. Frozen instead of fresh. Nearly everyone had made the cake, then made it again and again. Some shamefully confessed to eating the whole thing in one sitting.
What was the magic that allowed this cake to withstand endless swap-outs and baking calamities? How could this be? Cakes are finicky. Throw some fruit in there and you’ll often end up with a mushy mess.
I picked up some raspberries the next time I went to the store. I caved and turned on the heat.
I didn’t tinker with the recipe except I added some lemon zest to the batter and some crushed, toasted hazelnuts to the top along with a bit more sugar, because, hey, it’s cake.
I used a loaf pan instead of the 9-inch round pan the recipe called for, because I figured it would make it easier to travel with and distribute to my friends, because there was no way I was going to eat the whole cake by myself.
I made it three hours ago and it’s already half gone.
Update three days later: I made it twice more; so I could have one more for me and one to give away.
Raspberry Hazelnut Cake
Makes 1 (8-inch by 4-inch) loaf
Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup/1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for topping
- zest of ½ lemon
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup raspberries
- ¼ cup toasted and crushed hazelnuts
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a 8-inch by 4-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- In your mixer, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest for 2 to 3 minutes or until very light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat for another minute or two. Mix in the vanilla.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, half of the buttermilk, 1/3 more of the flour, the other half of the buttermilk, and the rest of the flour. At this stage, just mix until combined. You don’t wan to overmix.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan — it’ll be very thick — smooth it out, and add the raspberries to the top, pressing them into the batter slightly. Sprinkle with the crushed hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons of sugar and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned and a knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes or so before lifting the cake out of the pan and placing it on a baking rack to cool completely. Eat for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, or after dinner, then make it again, like I did.