Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lemon Bundt Cake and History of the Bundt Pan

Perfect for Spring, this is one of the ten great cakes every cook should have in their repertoire. It’s buttery yet bright, and the sweetness is balanced by the flavor of fresh lemon.  It keeps well, travels wells and if you make it in pound cake form you can keep one cake at home for yourself!
I made the Bundt version at Kevin’s request for his birthday, and it went well with my Italian dinner party theme.  When served I was asked why the cake is called a “Bundt” cake.  Bundt cake of course, gets its name from the ring-shaped pan in which it is baked. 
Nordic Ware's Original Bundt Pan
The Bundt pan was first produced in 1950 by Nordic Ware founder H. David Dalquist at the request of the Minneapolis Hadassah Society. The society's members were looking for a modern pan suitable for making a popular German/Austrian coffeecake called bundkuchen. Traditional pans were either too-fragile ceramic or too-heavy cast iron. Dalquist made an aluminum version, adding a "t" at the end of the German word "bund" and trademarking it.  When a Bundt cake won second place in a Pillsbury-sponsored baking contest in 1966, a Bundt pan craze ensued. Since then, more than 50 million pans have been sold by the Nordic Ware company.

The central cone in a Bundt cake pan ensures that a dense cake batter--like the luscious buttermilk and lemon-flecked one here--cooks evenly and thoroughly.

Julian's Bundt Pan
This lemon Bundt cake recipe is adapted from Ina Garten, of Barefoot Contessa fame.  I’ve modified it mainly with the addition of the Italian liqueur, Limoncello and candied lemon peel both of which further boost its lemon flavor. So I call my version... 

Julian's Double Lemon Bundt
Double Lemon Bundt Cake
    Adapted from ‘Barefoot Contessa Parties!’
 Yield: 2 loaf cakes or one Bundt

 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
 2 1/2 cups sugar
 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
 3 cups all-purpose flour
 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 1 teaspoon kosher salt
 3/4 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted.

1. Heat oven to 350F. Butter and flour two standard loaf pans or a 12-14 cup Bundt pan. Do not use food spray. You must actually butter and flour the pan.

2. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, and lemon zest.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.  Stir in the chopped candied lemon peel.   Divide batter evenly between pans, smooth tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

4. Remove to a rack and let cool 10 minutes.  Using a bamboo or similar skewer, poke about a dozen holes through the cake(s) (still in the pan(s)).  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Limoncello.  Wait 10 more minutes and turn the cake(s) out onto a parchment lined cooling rack.  Using the bamboo skewer, poke another dozen holes into the top side of the cake(s) and sprinkgle with 2 more tablespoons of Limoncello.  Let cakes cool completely.

 5. For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cakes, and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides.

With Lemon Curd Sauce and Whipped Cream

Lemon Curd Sauce
While not necessary, I used a purchased lemon curd which I thinned slightly with water and used as a sauce on the plates. 

Candied Lemon Peel
If you can’t find candied lemon peel at your local stores, it is simple to make and a good way to use up the lemon peels often left over when baking and cooking.

3 lemons
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar, or as needed

1. Cut lemons into slices, and remove the fruit pulp. Scrape off as much of the white inner layer as you can, this part is bitter. A spoon or butter knife will work well.

2. Bring water to a boil in a small pan, and add lemon peels. Boil for about 5 minutes, until tender. Remove peels from water, and stir in sugar. Return to a boil, add peels, and boil until transparent. Drain, and allow to dry before storing. Liquid may be reserved and used as lemon simple syrup.

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