Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lemon Bundt Cake

I'm telling you, I can't get enough of this pan.

One day this past spring, my co-worker and I decided to plan a Thanksgiving lunch at the office. The idea hatched solely from Maggie's desire to get rid of the adult turkey that had been taking up residence in her freezer, but once everyone was on board, it became the event of the week. We were excited at the prospect of eating together as a group. Even more, we were excited to FEAST. 

I dibsed dessert, thinking vaguely of pumpkin pie. But when the day drew near, I didn't want pumpkin. I wanted lemon. The answer came to me at once: lemon bundt cake. I was thrilled to have pegged a dessert that was all at once festive, springy, and entirely dependent on my recently acquired and most adored baking vessel. That's right, folks. The bundt is back.

The recipe I was following called only for lemon zest in the cake batter. I added some fresh lemon juice, and would advise you to do the same. It's cake, so you'll never achieve the intense lemon flavor of, say, lemon bars. But you can try.
I love that lemon valley through the middle of the cake. So rustic-looking, until...
Flipped and flawless! 
Lemon lacquered! 
I had some raspberry icing left over from the cupcakes we'd made that weekend. How fortuitous that lemon and raspberry are one of the winningest combinations in dessert-dom, and that the raspberry icing had the consistency most suited for wrapping around the contours of lemony cake crust, the viscosity fit for clinging to its sharp descents and stopping like stalactites before meeting the glass surface. That was the funnest part: pouring the icing as equitably as I could, then stepping back and watching it take its course. That right there is the work of sugar, lemon juice, jam, and gravity, all conspiring to make something gorgeous, and make me look like a pro.

The cake was a hit. It was bright and refreshing, and it took us through a few mid-afternoon slumps. On one such afternoon I cut a piece and took it back to my desk to eat while I worked. As I set my plate down, I was struck by the contrast between crumb, crust, and icing, and the infinitesimal boundaries between them. I saw that flawless delicacy that can often only be found in nature, like the curve of the lunule on your thumb (oh, words!). Then I became self-aware, and knew that while I was pondering beauty and nature and metaphysics (in a very generous interpretation of the word), to anyone on the outside, I was just a lady staring at cake. And so concluded my study.

But I have to say, I think I was on to something...