The day before we left for South Carolina, we gathered with the Scott side of the family for my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner. Although there was a house to clean, bags to pack, and deadlines to meet before hitting the road, we all wanted to celebrate her special day before our vacation, and fortunately the weeknight worked for everyone in the extended family, a rarity in the summer months when work and vacation schedules can be a challenge to coordinate.
I had grand ideas of firing up the grill and making dishes for a potluck-style birthday feast, but Rob quickly talked me off the ledge I was walking on, and suggested we order pizza instead. With sixteen people in attendance, and a to-do list that rivaled the guest count in size, he was right, of course, so we took the party to his parent’s house, let the local pizza place provide us with dinner, and rounded out the meal with fresh Caesar salad, a cooler full of cold drinks, and a raspberry cream country cake to hold the birthday candles.
I had exactly 13.2 minutes to get this cake assembled, and believe it or not, it was more than enough time. The key to making this possible was that I had baked the cake layers a few days in advance, and only needed to whip some lightly sweetened cream, bash some raspberries, and put it all together before hitting the road to their house.
You could, of course, use any berry you happen to have on hand, but ten days ago it was the local ruby raspberries calling my name from the market stalls. I imagine this would be equally as lovely with blackberries, which I happen to love. Feel free to play around with the flavours – this is a cake that’s meant for your own interpretations, and the best part is that you only have to bake once in order to make two simple summer desserts.
Raspberry Cream Country Cake
For the cake:
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the raspberry cream:
- 2 pints raspberries
- 2 cups cold heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
For the garnish:
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1-2 sprigs mint, leaves removed from the stem
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter and flour the lined pans.
Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, then the yogurt, lemon zest, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature. If using one cake, wrap the second in plastic wrap and freeze.Alternatively, if making the cakes in advance, wrap both in plastic wrap and pop in the freezer until needed.
To make the raspberry cream:
In a medium bowl, gently mash 1 pint of raspberries with a fork. Stir in the remaining pint of berries.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and powdered sugar on high until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, gently fold raspberries into the whipped cream.
To assemble the cake:
If cake is frozen remove from freezer and thaw at room temperature for 2 hours. Cut the cake evenly through the equator and place the bottom piece on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread half of the raspberry cream over the surface, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top with other cake layer, and press down gently. Spread the remaining raspberry cream over top, and garnish with fresh berries, mint leaves, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
Cake recipe adapted from Ina Garten.