I hate transition and this time of year is always brutal. You have the darkness of the dead of winter but not the cold that gives you permission to hibernate and be cozy. It’s too early for the warmth and spice of gingerbread and too late for the sweet-tart juiciness of a nectarine cobbler.
The weather in New York has been unseasonably variable--less the crisp, clean of autumn and more the damp, clamminess of spring. My hair couldn’t look worse, my vacuum is broken and the Odd Couple marathon that made me so happy till 2am made me miserable when I overslept.
So, instead of completely caving to the crabbiness provoked by my sloth and the whims of barometric pressure, I’m going to pick myself up with my red potholders and make something cheerful.
There is a fruit cart in my neighborhood that somehow manages to have the best deals on berries no matter what time of year. I know, I know…I should be buying local and seasonal but if I bite into one more pear that bears more than a passing resemblance to a potato I may stop eating fruit all together. And buying from the cart allows me to kid myself for one minute and pretend I’m in Paris nodding “merci” to the fruitier and not on the corner of 68th and Columbus saying “thanks” to the ornery vendor.
Mr. Vendor’s most recent deal was three boxes of Mexican raspberries for $5.00. (Excuse me but I chose a larger carbon footprint over an attack of Seasonal Affective Disorder! Now back off!) Luckily I still had one box in the fridge, and the buttermilk left over from my sister’s birthday cupcakes, so I didn’t need to go out in the rain for any ingredients.
The great thing about this cake is that it can be baked in a round 9” cake pan, cut into wedges and served as a dessert, with a little bit of yogurt or crème fraiche if you feel like being fancy. OR you can bake it in a square 9” pan, cut it into well, squares, and serve it for brunch. The lemon really adds some sparkle and it just feels like sunshine. Simply making it will stop your slide down the slippery slope of S.A.D and one bite will send you on the path to a warm, bright place.
Don't Be S.A.D. Sunny Lemon Raspberry Cake
(adapted from Gourmet, June 2009)
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1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round or square cake pan.
In small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In liquid measuring cup combine buttermilk, vanilla and lemon zest. Set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer beat together butter and 2/3 cup sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Invert onto a plate.