Sim­ple Sum­mer Cake

The Saline Courier Weekend - - LIVING -

When it comes to bak­ing, I like to keep it sim­ple, pre­fer­ring pre­sen­ta­tions that are not too fussy, but fresh and light. This es­pe­cially ap­plies to cake.

It was my daugh­ter’s birth­day re­cently, and her fa­vorite cake is a Dan­ish lagk­age (layer cake), which is the tra­di­tional birth­day cake served at cel­e­bra­tions. In re­fresh­ing Dan­ish fash­ion, the cake is sim­ple and min­i­mal, with thin lay­ers of vanilla sponge, whipped cream and fresh fruit. In the sum­mer, we pluck rasp­ber­ries and straw­ber­ries for dec­o­ra­tion and to layer be­tween the cake. In the win­ter, we smear pre­serves (made from berries we picked the pre­vi­ous sum­mer) over each cake layer be­fore adding the cream. Some­times we com­bine both the whole fruit and the pre­serves. It’s flex­i­ble and beau­ti­ful, no pip­ing, no bling. The only dec­o­ra­tions are a pile of fresh berries on top and pretty snipped edi­ble flow­ers from the gar­den. It’s per­fect.

I have messed around with dif­fer­ent vanilla cake recipes over the years, and this is the one I cur­rently fa­vor. This sponge cake recipe is adapted from Cooks Il­lus­trated. Make sure that all of the sponge cake ingredient­s are at room tem­per­a­ture be­fore you be­gin.

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Dan­ish Layer Cake With Whipped Cream and Berries

Ac­tive Time: 30 min­utes To­tal Time: 1 hour, plus cooling time

Yield: Serves: 8 to 10

Cake:

4 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk 2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract

1 tea­spoon finely grated lemon zest 2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups gran­u­lated su­gar

2 tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der

1/2 tea­spoon salt

1 cup un­salted but­ter, soft­ened

Whipped Cream:

2 cups chilled heavy cream

2 ta­ble­spoons sifted con­fec­tion­ers’ su­gar

1 cup rasp­ber­ries

As­sorted berries (rasp­ber­ries, sliced straw­ber­ries, red or black cur­rants) for gar­nish

Fresh edi­ble flow­ers and herb sprigs for gar­nish

Make the cake:

Pre­heat the oven to 350 de­grees. But­ter two (8- or 9-inch) cake pans. Line the bot­toms with parch­ment and but­ter the parch­ment.

Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon zest in a medium bowl to com­bine.

Com­bine the flour, su­gar, bak­ing pow­der and salt in the bowl of an elec­tric mixer. Briefly mix on low speed to blend.

Add 1/3 of the but­ter to the flour mix­ture and mix on low speed to blend, then in­crease the speed to medium and mix for about 10 sec­onds.

Add half of the re­main­ing but­ter and mix for 10 to 15 sec­onds to blend. Add the re­main­ing but­ter and mix for 10 to 15 sec­onds. The mix­ture should be wet and gran­u­lar.

Add half of the egg mix­ture and mix to just com­bine with­out over­mix­ing. Add the re­main­ing egg mix­ture and mix un­til smooth with­out over­mix­ing. Di­vide the bat­ter be­tween the pans. Trans­fer to the oven and bake un­til a skewer in­serted in the cen­ter comes out clean, about 25 min­utes. Cool on a rack for 10 min­utes, then in­vert the cakes and cool com­pletely. When cool, use a ser­rated knife to slice the cakes in half hor­i­zon­tally (op­tional).

Make the cream:

Whip the cream in the bowl of an elec­tric mixer un­til traces of the whisk are ap­par­ent. Add the su­gar and beat un­til firm peaks form. Place 1 cup rasp­ber­ries in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add half of the whipped cream and gen­tly stir to com­bine.

As­sem­ble:

Place one cake layer on a cake plate and top with rasp­berry cream. Re­peat with re­main­ing lay­ers. Spread the re­main­ing whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. (You can leave the sides “naked” if de­sired.) Top with fresh berries. Gar­nish with snipped edi­ble flow­ers and/or herbs. Serve the cake im­me­di­ately.

Tip: If you would like more fruit fla­vor, gen­tly heat 8 ounces high-qual­ity rasp­berry pre­serves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat un­til runny. Cool slightly and spread over each cake layer be­fore top­ping with the

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