Tuesday, May 6, 2008

May 6: Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries

I've lost my sweet tooth, mostly. It's the curse of being a diabetic--I mean, it's the curse if you don't think of retinopathy, peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, circulatory failure, or increased risk of stroke to be a curse, per se. But I rarely have dessert, and I love ice cream, so if I'm eating something sweet, it's probably a menage a trois with me, Ben and Jerry.

I do like an occasional fruit dessert, though. I like all kinds of fruit crisps and lemon squares, if they're good ones. This cake looks tasty, though; it's from an old Bon Apetit from my mother's collection that I absconded with. I can't remember what recipe in here I was originally interested in, but this sounds yummy, and seasonal. If you're a mother, you should find someone who wants to make this for you.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries

1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
3 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 16-ounce package frozen sliced sweetened strawberries, thawed

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
2 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled

FOR CAKE: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Beat sugar, butter and lemon peel in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon juice. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pans to racks and cool 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)

Boil sliced sweetened strawberries with juices in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup and begins to thicken, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

FOR FROSTING: Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in lemonade concentrate and lemon peel.
Divide strawberry mixture between 2 cake layers and spread over tops, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges. Let stand until slightly set, about 5 minutes. Place 1 strawberry-topped layer on platter. Drop 3/4 cup frosting atop cake by spoonfuls; gently spread over top. Top with remaining strawberry-topped layer. Drop 3/4 cup frosting by spoonfuls atop cake; gently spread over top. Top with remaining cake layer. Using spatula, spread remaining frosting in decorative swirls over sides and top of cake. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.)

Decoratively arrange strawberries, pointed side up, atop cake. Cut into wedges and serve.

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