Monday, March 29, 2010

Buttermilk Spice Cake

I offered to make dessert for our family's Easter dinner this year -- because of everyone's schedules we're actually eating on Good Friday -- and have been scanning my cookbooks and magazines for ideas. Bon Appetit's March issue features a Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote and Creme Fraiche, and earlier this week I decided to try out the cake on its own to see if I liked it.

I should've taken a closer look at the list of ingredients before it came time to bake, as I realized I was missing a couple of key items, one of them being the buttermilk! Oops. I did however have 1% plain yogurt, which I knew would work just as well. I was also down a vanilla bean. I do have high quality vanilla, so I used that and bumped up the amount. It turned out fairly well, although I'm not sure if it makes the cut for my family's holiday dinner. Pears seem more fall than spring....I'm thinking something fresh and light. Perhaps a lemon tart, a key lime pie, or a rhubarb fool. Decisions, decisions.

Buttermilk Spice Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit | March 2010

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (scant) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground whole star anise*
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 3-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla)
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime peel
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup 1% plain yogurt)
Powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line pan with round of parchment paper.

Sift first 9 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add lime peel; beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions, scraping down bowl occasionally. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake until beginning to brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan on cooling rack.

Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack; peel off parchment and turn right side up onto platter. Sift powdered sugar over. Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream, yogurt, and/or crème fraîche.

For the original recipe, including the pear compote, click here.

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