Friday, August 19, 2011
Soft Dutch Cake: The Anti-Fruitcake
Soft Dutch Cake is the opposite of fruitcake: a moist, very soft cake whose white crumb is studded with gorgeous pieces of fresh fruit. I used sugar plums and apricots, but the recipe says "any kind of fruit," not even specifying if one should use fresh fruit or how much. But I love stone fruit, so thought I'd post this recipe before its all-too-short season comes to an end.
I bought this beautiful fruit at the Lower East Side Youthmarket, a farm stand operated by GrowNY and staffed by graduates of Henry Street Settlement's Young Adult Internship Program. Folks on the LES get farm fresh produce and the youth get business experience -- how perfect is that! (The stand is open Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. in front of the Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street.)
The fruit glistens like jewels in the batter. As it bakes, the batter rises up and surrounds the fruit, hiding it until one cuts into the cake, revealing the delicious surprise.
Like many of the hand-written recipes in my collection, this lists ingredients and doesn't give a method, so I just mixed all the dry ingredients together first, and then added the softened butter, milk and the egg (which I beat lightly before adding). After mixing these wet and dry ingredients together, I poured the batter into a 9-inch cake pan and placed the slice fruit atop the batter. Next, I followed the instruction to mix sugar, cinnamon and butter together and then dotted the batter with this mixture.
Recipes like these -- flexible, fun and easy -- show that baking is as much an art as a science. And you can create all sorts of different cakes, based on the fruit you choose. Do try this at home.