Nothing says Thanksgiving like… raspberry buttermilk cake?
It was probably the least obvious choice for dessert on a holiday that pays tribute to the pumpkin, the pecan and the apple, but I couldn’t help myself. After tasting the delicate cake the week prior at my friends’ apartment, it was all I could think about – an oddity since I don’t particularly like cakes – especially ones that don’t contain chocolate or carrots or gobs of goopy frosting.
I hadn’t even wanted any dessert that night. I’d canceled a reservation at Breadbar to sample Pastry Chef Waylynn Lucas’ eight specialty dessert plates, because I was trying “to be good.” I made myself a healthy quinoa salad for dinner instead, and then trooped over to Erin and Hank’s place to watch “Glee” and “Modern Family” for my big social event of the evening.
“Spending time with friends doesn’t always have to involve eating,” I thought smugly. “I am capable of engaging in activities that do not include my stomach!”
Even when I discovered that Erin was baking Hank a cake for his birthday the following day, I held strong to my original stance – no sugar coma for me. I was not eating my feelings that night, thank you very much!
“Are you sure?” Erin said as she stood at the door of the kitchen holding three plates and three forks.
“Yep!” I sang with confidence.
But then I saw it. The thin layer of golden cake, speckled with whole raspberries that were oozing their juices into the supple interior.
And then I heard it. The groans of pleasure flowing from the birthday boy’s gaping mouth.
“Mmm… all my favorite flavors!” He said, already eying the pan on the table for a second helping.
My stomach rumbled with displeasure. No fair. It wanted buttermilk raspberry cake too.
“You should really try it…” Erin said, as though reading my petulant stomach’s mind.
The strong resolve I’d worked so hard to build immediately crumbled, and I pushed myself off the couch with slight irritation. “Fine! I’ll try some!” I grumbled on my way to the kitchen for a plate.
I cut off a tiny slice, fully expecting it to be like most cakes I frown upon – dry, flavorless and not chocolate. But it wasn’t dry. And it wasn’t flavorless. And while it wasn’t chocolate, it was still satisfying.
“I love the sugar on top!” I gushed, reaching over to slice off another sliver from the platter on the coffee table.
“It’s so moist!” I continued, shocked by my love for such a simple cake.
As I wiped the final crumbs off my plate, I announced to my friends, “I have to make this. I have to make this for my family – next week!”
And so it came to pass. I made a buttermilk raspberry cake for Thanksgiving. It stood proudly next to my mom’s pumpkin pie on the kitchen counter for all in my family to snub in favor of the more seasonal offering.
But I didn’t snub it. I topped it off with powdered sugar and a few more of the $4.99 raspberries, and then gave my thanks for the dear friends in my life who get me to try new things. Even when it means “being bad.” And even when it means eating something other than chocolate.
Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
From Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Gourmet, June 2009
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 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three 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 (make sure some are facing upward so they don’t all fall to the bottom) and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes (mine was done in 19 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.