Friday, June 19, 2015

Lemon Bundt Cake for Swedish Midsummer

The Swedes love their strawberries.  And with good reason; Swedish strawberries are delicious.  They are only available in the summer and are sweet with strawberry flavor, totally unlike the industrial grown strawberries that you can get in every grocery store.  At our summer house in the countryside, we have a strawberry grower five minutes up the road.  You can go to his little stand and grab freshly picked berries, or you can even pick them yourself.  They have to be eaten the same day, or maybe you could hold out until the next day.  But after that, they will go bad because they are picked at the perfect ripeness. This is not usually a problem, as my kids attack them as soon as I get home with them.

Swedes especially love stawberries at midsummer.  Because it is early in the season, the strawberries are double the cost that they would be later in the summer, but that does not deter the Swedes as they line up at strawberry stands by the road.  Lack of sun does not deter the Swedes either, as they indulge in their traditional ritual of decorating the midsummer pole with flowers, and it is a good thing too, since a rainy midsummer celebration is par for the course.

The traditional summer cake is a light airy thing made of layers of sponge cake, whipped cream and strawberries.  It is a fine cake but this year, I felt like something a little bit different.  So, I have made a classic American lemon Bundt cake.  Drizzled with lemon syrup and served with strawberries and whipped cream, you can almost taste the sunshine that the weather is failing to bring!

Serves 10 to 12
(using 12 to 15 cup Bundt pan)

For the cake
226 grams (1 cup) butter
300 grams (2 1/2 cups) sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
384 grams ( 3 cups) flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest and juice from 2 lemons
a handful of dried coconut to dust the pan

For the syrup
zest and juice from 1 lemon
50 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

Turn on the oven to 180C (350F).  Prepare your Bundt pan by buttering it very carefully, making sure to get butter in all the creases.  Throw in a handful of dried coconut and shake it around the bank, getting an even layer. Shake out any excess. The coating helps the cake from sticking to the pan and I like to use something that will help the flavor of the cake. If you do not like coconut, you can use dried breadcrumbs, finely chopped almonds or other nuts, or just plain flour.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy.  This is easier to do if your butter is at room temperature, but if it isn't, just keep beating it and it will warm up as you are working.  Add the sugar and beat thoroughly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating very well until incorporated.  The eggs should make the mixture become light and airy.

Add half the flour, the baking soda and salt, vanilla, and the lemon juice and zest.  Beat until just incorporated.  Then add the rest of the flour and the sour cream.  Again, beat until just incorporated but no more.  You don't want to beat out the air and lightness that you incorporated when beating the eggs.

Pour into your prepared cake pan.  Put in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup.  Put the lemon juice, zest and sugar into a little pan.  Heat on the stove until the sugar is melted.  Set aside.

When the cake is finished, take a fork or wooden skewer and poke holes in the top.  Spoon 3/4 of the syrup over the cake, trying to avoid getting it down the sides of the pan.  Wait about 15 minutes and let the cake cool down a bit.  Then put your serving plate over the cake pan and flip over the cake and the plate together.  Spoon the rest of the syrup over the top of the cake and let it cool.

Serve with whipped cream and strawberries if it is midsummer!

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