Our book group meets each month, but every other gathering is essentially an excuse to drink tea and eat cake. Waiting for everyone’s schedules to accommodate a new book was delaying the regular catching up that everyone was really after, so this was the pragmatic compromise. Book or no book, these afternoons offer a perfectly reasonable excuse to try out a new cake recipe.
There’s nothing about this cake by Belle Année that makes it too difficult to pull together during the week, but it’s perfect for a Sunday afternoon treat. Light and bright, but not too sweet, it holds up well to multiple cups of tea. It is a substantial cake without feeling heavy, which I love. I guess the lift comes from beating the eggs and sugar for a full five minutes before adding the other ingredients, but whatever the reason, it’s worth it.
The only thing that takes any time is getting enough zest to brighten the otherwise quite simple list of ingredients, but the rest of the steps comes together quickly and easily. I popped this in the oven before a shower, and by the time I was out the whole flat smelled of beautiful citrus-meets-vanilla Sunday joy.
I was a remote member of this book group for a few months before we moved here, and although I enjoyed reading along with everyone, nothing beats an excuse to share a good slice of cake with a group of friends.
2 1/4 cups (280g) plain flour
2 1/4 tsp (9g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.8g) salt
2 cups (400g) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 Tbsp lemon zest (about 2 large lemons)
1 Tbsp orange zest (about 1 orange)
1 1/4 (300ml) cup milk
10 Tbsp (142g) unsalted butter, cut in cubes
Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C and place the rack in the middle.
Prepare your bundt pan by making sure that every bit of it is buttered and floured. This is easiest with a pastry brush dipped in a tablespoon or so of melted butter, which allows you to paint every corner. Flour the pan well, tip the remaining flour back out and discard.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside. Combine the butter and milk in a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave the milk mixture for 30 seconds, stir and repeat (in shorter increments as needed) until the butter is just melted, but not too hot. Set the mixture aside until needed.
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixture. Mix on high for 5 minutes, until the mixture is ‘super light and fluffy’. After 5 minutes, add the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and orange zest to the mixture while continuing to beat on high.
Reduce the speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, then half of the milk mixture. Mix until incorporated (about 30 seconds), then add the remaining flour and milk mixture. Beat for another 30 seconds or until completely combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. After 30 minutes, begin checking if the cake is ready by inserting a skewer or knife into the thickest part. Continue to bake, 5 minutes at a time, until your tester comes out clean (this may take up to 45 minutes).
When the cake is done, remove it and let it cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully flip the cake out of the tin onto your serving plate or cake stand.
This cake can be finished either with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and some thinly sliced lemons (as above) or with a drizzle of lemon icing (made with powdered sugar and just enough lemon juice to reach the consistency you desire).
Enjoy with friends!