After a short blast of winter, which included only two weeks of “proper” cold, Brisbane has decided that spring is here. While the evenings can still be a little chilly, I’m back to bare legs and light cardigans during the day. I’m doing my best not to panic about how hot summer is going to be this year (la la la la la) and instead greet the rising of sap and birthing of lambs with an air of joyful exuberance – and that of course means cake, of which there has been entirely too little on this blog lately.
Moist and tender, vanilla- and lemon-scented, studded with raspberries turned tangy by the heat: this cake is downright delectable! It’s the perfect cake for a ladies afternoon tea and indeed, I took it to one recently. It was actually a lingerie party, not the naughty kind mind you, the sensible kind; about support rather than sex, where the proprietor dispenses advice on optimum laundering techniques for extending the life of your undergarments, as opposed to various “shades of grey”. Anyway, the elegant simplicity of the cake was perfect at our party, served with tea and a little sparkling wine, as we innocently chattered about mother’s-in-law and pregnancies, kittens and lace. (This of course gets me wondering about what kind of cake should be matched with a naughty lingerie party? Chocolate, it would have to be chocolate. Maybe dirty Mud Cake or boozy Black Forest?).
You don’t have to crook your finger as you daintily eat this cake (although you may find that you want to). All you really need to know is that everyone who eats it will go back for seconds. Even your mega-macho friend who loves the gym will beg you to make one, just for him. I’ve actually had the recipe printed off and waiting to be trialled for five years, which is devastating as I could have (would have) been making it all this time if I had known how good it was.
Did you notice my new napkins, made by Yardage Design?
I spotted them at a market outside GOMA a few weeks ago. The vibrancy of the hot pink print against the variegated grey of the linen was just stunning in the winter sun and I simply had to have them. True to my uncultured roots (New Zealand has more of a paper serviette tradition), I fear that they are too lovely to use on sticky mouths and fingers. I’ll reserve them, I’ve resolved, for draping, covering and embellishment purposes only:
That’s all from me, a bit of froth and frivolity is all I feel like conjuring today (it’s a public holiday). Here’s to napkins and cake, tea parties and underwear, the scent of spring and the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka). I’ll try to be back, next post, with serious reflection and meat. Frou frou!
Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
130g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
56g unsalted butter, at room temperature
146g sugar, plus a further 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup (roughly 140g) fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 205°C/400°F . Butter and flour a 25cm round cake pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. Beat the butter and first measure of sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Add the egg and beat well.
Switching the mixer to a low speed, mix in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Ensure that each time you only mix until just combined. Transfer the batter into the cake pan and gently spread to fill the pan. Scatter the raspberries over the top and sprinkle with the final 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, which should take between 18-25 minutes depending on your oven. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.