Friday, February 25, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake with Wild Blueberry Sauce

Winter is a dark time, and this winter, with its numerous snowstorms and cold, damp weather, has been particularly gloomy. Random thoughts about moving to the Caribbean and opening up an exotic fruit-focused popsicle stand frequently found their way 

into my head.  So did thoughts of investing in an industrial snow plough company. But winter, I reminded myself, is also the time when citrus fruit is plentiful, and nothing says sunshine like a brightly flavored lemon dessert. And lemons are far cheaper than 

flights to exotic locations, nor does their purchase necessitate an invasive security pat-down. Today I decided to make a simple lemon pound cake, which gets a boost from a tangy lemon syrup that’s brushed over its surface while warm. I topped the cake with a 

few candied lemon slices—an optional garnish— and served the cake with a blueberry sauce made from frozen wild blueberries, which can now be easily found in supermarkets (at least I think they can). A little whipped cream is a nice finish, though vanilla ice cream would be my preference (I was fresh out). The other nice thing about eating lemon pound cake in winter is that it’s not bathing suit season, so no worries on that front.

Lemon Pound Cake with Wild Blueberry Sauce

Makes 10 servings
Storage: in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

2 cups (7 oz/200 g) sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz/227 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (8.8 oz/250 g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs                                                                                                         
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream

Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Wild Blueberry Sauce:
2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (or to taste)

Candied lemon slices, for garnish

Make the cake:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 1/2 x 5 1/2-inch loaf pan. Dust the pan with flour and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine well and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat the mixture at medium-high speed until very light, about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally (the mixture should look curdled at this point). Beat in the citrus zest and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, alternating it with the heavy cream in two additions. Mix just until the flour is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Make the syrup:
5. While the cake is baking, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in lemon juice. When the cake is done, let it cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then poke the cake all over at 1-inch intervals with a bamboo skewer and brush it with half the lemon syrup. Let the cake stand for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto the wire rack and poke the bottom with the skewer all over. Brush the bottom and sides with the remaining syrup. Cool the cake upright on the rack completely before serving.

Make the sauce:
6. In a small saucepan, combine the berries, water, confectioners’ sugar and granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the berries have released their juices. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

7. Serve a slice of the cake with the Wild Blueberry Sauce and whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.