John and I were squabbling the other day, a run of the mill dumb fight–the kind we do have in front of the kids because I think it is healthier for them to see us fight and make up than always get along perfectly. Anyway, Alex went into another room, and returned with 2 of these signs, which she showed to us and then placed in strategic locations:
I gotta admit it ended the dumb fight, as we both just started cracking up. Which, as a perceptive friend noted, really makes you wonder what she might do next time we start squabbling in front of her….
Happily no fighting was involved in the creation of these cakes. John was in Barcelona last week, so a friend came to stay and we whipped these up on a freezing cold and otherwise dreary weekend day. The various layers were more work than your average bundt cake, but totally worth it both for the taste factor and the sparkly green factor.
This is yet another cake from Christie Matheson’s Cake Simple, which, as I have said before and will say again, if you are a cake baking aficionado you must own. Actually even if you don’t usually bake them but love to eat them you should still own this book because the cakes in it are, as the title states, simple. This particular cake is genius, as it would be delicious plain, with 1 glaze, with 2 glazes, or, when you have the time and inclination, with the 2 glazes and the basil lime sugar topping. Work as little or as much as you like. The recipe is written for a 6 cup bundt pan, which I did not have, so I doubled it and baked it in various sized pans–but you could also double it and bake it in a traditional 10 inch/12 cup pan. Not surprisingly we all liked the mini bundts best–they are just so cute and the ratio of topping to cake is decadently high on the topping side. The freshness of the basil and fresh lemon juice keeps the topping from being too sweet (especially if, like me, you massively reduce the sugar in favor of the tart lemon juice).
Lemon Basil Bundt Cake
Closely adapted from Cake Simple, Christie Matheson
For the cake:
- 180 g (1 1/2 cups) AP flour minus 1 T potato flour
- 1 T potato flour
- 2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
- 200 g (1 cup) sugar
- 3 large eggs
- zest of 2 lemons (save them for the juice!)
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1/2 t vanilla
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
For the Lemon-Basil Syrup:
- 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 2 T water
- 6 T fresh lemon juice
- zest peeled in strips from 1/2 of a lemon
- 2 large basil leaves
For the Lemon-Basil Glaze:
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 T chopped basil leaves
- 2 T lemon juice, to taste
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, to taste (the more sugar you use, the sweeter and more opaque it will be)
- pinch of salt
For the Lemon-Basil Sugar:
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
1/2 t lemon zest
2 large basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour–or use a spray like Baker’s Joy–a 6 cup bundt pan. Set aside.
Place the tablespoon of potato flour into the measuring cup or bowl for the AP flour. Top off with AP flour. Place it in a medium sized bowl and add the baking powder and salt. Whisk thoroughly. Set aside.
Using a whisk attachment in a mixer, beat the yogurt, sour cream and sugar on medium speed until well combined. Add the eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Beat again until well combined.
Add the flour mixture and mix on low (still with the whisk attachment) just until combined. Gently mix the oil in by hand.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cake is golden and pulling away from the sides, and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack placed above foil or wax paper.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup and sugar. To make the syrup, bring the ingredients to a gentle boil over medium heat in a small saucepan (non reactive). Let boil for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup–this syrup you want to brush all over the cake after removing it from the pan, when it is still warm.
While the cake is baking, you can also make the sugar. Place the sugar, lemon zest and basil leaves in a small food processor. Process until you have a fragrant green sugar with no clumps of basil. Set aside.
While the cake is cooling, make the glaze: Place the cream and basil in a small nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat. Scald the cream but do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Strain the cream into a medium sized bowl and then add the salt, lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar. Whisk smooth, and then taste for either more lemon juice or more sugar. On the one hand, the more sugar you use, the more opaque and therefore attractive the glaze will be. However to some tastes–for example mine-it can also get too sweet, so I often sacrifice appearance and reduce the sugar.
When the cake is cool, drizzle the cake generously with the glaze. Let the glaze partially set and then sprinkle with the sugar and serve.