Mollie Bakes: Berry Cake Bake-Off
Cake-baking at the end of summer amidst a crazy heat wave may not be everyone’s favorite way to spend a Sunday, but you know, I kind of loved it.
With oodles of time, two recipes I’d been aching to bake, and the promise of delicious, summer-berry-filled cakes as a result, how could I not dive in and get baking? I cranked the air conditioning and got to work.
FYI: if my apartment didn’t have ice-level air conditioning, I would still probably have baked these cakes. A little sweltering wouldn’t stop me.
Why two cakes, you may be thinking? Why not? One cake is wonderful, but two cakes are terrific. And much better to have more when you’re comparing one against the other, sharing with your taste-testers, and frankly, can’t decide which to bake! More is more, dear readers, and I just couldn’t choose. So that’s how my late-summer Berry Cake Bake-Off was born.
And not to dwell too much on the more front, but we had a late-breaking addition: I baked a third cake! Yup. I saw one more recipe I couldn’t resist and threw it into the ring.
Baker’s Note: All three recipes featured are by Alison Roman with the first two being from her cookbook, Dining In. The third is available online via Bon Appétit.
The only change I made for each recipe was using gluten free flour instead of regular all-purpose. Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour is my flour of choice.
If you’re not aware, Dining In offers a standout collection of recipes, and I’ve found my newest joy in the dessert section of the book (the dinner options are endless). Delicious creations that are not too sweet, she mentions in the chapter’s opening that her purpose was to specifically include recipes that weren’t of the ultra-sweet variety (let the other flavors shine!) thus making me even happier with the results.
While I love a great, decadent chocolate cake or super-sweet sundae here and there, I definitely appreciate these desserts that are less focused on sugar, and more focused on incredible flavor and seasonal ingredients.
My general consensus is that slightly-less-sweet desserts are welcome far more often than those which take a different, more sugary approach. There’s a time and place for all sorts of sweets, but in my opinion, a little less sweet is the sweetest. ;)
So, without further delay, which cake will take the cake? 😉
Read on to find out!
Honey-Yogurt Pound Cake with Raspberries
Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or a late-afternoon tea, this pound cake was everything I dreamed my first GF pound cake would be. Terrific texture, perfectly moist, and incredibly delicious with flecks of fresh raspberry throughout.
Easy-as-ever to prepare, prep only required two bowls and the loaf pan! The flavor and texture is most definitely thanks to the yogurt and honey mixed into the cake batter which resulted in a light cake that was sturdy and sliced beautifully.
While most wonderful on day one, we enjoyed this cake for a full week! Gluten free baked goods have a short shelf life, so it seems, but this one was different! I loved that the texture and consistency remained great day after day. Seth enjoyed it for breakfast every morning!
I will definitely bake this one again as I could easily imagine making these semi-sweet cakes for holiday gifts, brunch gatherings, or the living room of my Inn, having it available to all guests popping in amidst their day’s adventures. Oh wait, I haven’t opened an Inn... yet. 😉
My next venture with this cake will be to bake it with a different berry (raspberries are quite tart when baked, I find) and maybe throw in a few chocolate chips.
Last note: As mentioned in the book, this cake will travel well due to its shape and sturdy form. So, I’d recommend bringing it to your friends and family; I know they will thank you.
Blueberry Cake with Almond and Cinnamon
Am I dreaming? Is this what blueberry-filled-cake-dreams are made of? I think so. And this is coming from someone who, admittedly, doesn’t always love cooked fruit. I know. What am I doing baking all these fruit-filled cakes then? Who knows. I just am. And I love this one.
Described as an improvement to the ever-tricky blueberry muffin, this cake combines everything you crave in a muffin, plus even more joy due to the fact that it’s a cake and is much bigger than a muffin (thus offering many more bites/slices/servings).
The fun fact of this cake is that the dry ingredients include regular flour (GF in this case) and almond flour, which offers a slightly heartier cake that has a nuttiness to it as well as a richer flavor overall. Thank you, almond flour! It’s naturally gluten free, by the way. 😉
The surprise part of this cake is that it doesn’t rise too much in the pan, but don’t worry! That’s on purpose and will not leave you sad or frustrated. The cake isn’t too tall, but it packs a mighty punch of delicious.
The volume of fresh blueberries and crunchy topping (just a little bit of white sugar) are balanced perfectly with the other contributors of flavor (almond flour, butter, cinnamon) to result in a cake that tastes equal part muffin as sweet/savory dessert.
While I thought this cake was a breakfast-y sort, others thought it to be more of a post-dinner treat. Honestly, when a cake has fruit in it I deem it acceptable to have a slice morning or night. You may feel differently! But a slice of blueberry cake may just be the best way to start, or end, your day.
Last note: The first time I made this cake I used regular blueberries, which offered a slightly sweeter cake with pretty defined pockets of berry. The second time I baked it (for my family’s Rosh Hashanah dinner), I used wild Maine blueberries, which are much smaller and kind of infiltrated much more of the cake.
The wild blueberries were far less sweet and offered a slice that seemed, to me, prepped and perfect for breakfast. Add some eggs on the side. 😉
The author recommends the wild blueberries, and I’ve tried baking the cake with both, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with either!
Also, perhaps due to the GF flour, I ended up baking each cake for longer than the noted time of 30-35 minutes. The blueberry cake ended up baking for around 42 minutes; however, all ovens are a little different. Watch it closely after the 35-minute mark. And it will settle a bit (shrink slightly) once out of the oven.
My preference would be to serve the cake once it has completely cooled and with some whipped cream on top. Just a dollop. :)
Raspberry Ricotta Cake
In the spirit of berry-love, and my inability to just cool it, I added a third cake to this competition! We aren’t exactly having them compete against each other, who could possibly pick the best one, but I did make three fruit-filled cakes to test myself (gotta learn somehow!) and therefore compare each one to the other two.
Why the third cake? I saw the recipe online, saw a few reviews, anxiously read the (simple) recipe and then couldn’t resist. I baked it after work, before dinner, and had it cooling before the dishes were washed. As I declared to Seth, “I’m baking a cake before dinner. And that’s that.” Ha! As if he had a choice. 😉
Well, he did. While I made the cake he was prepping and cooking dinner. Busiest time in our kitchen, ever, since we never cook and bake at the same time. Thankfully, we each did our thing and each dish (dinner and the cake) came out quite well. #marriedlife
What I loved about this recipe was that it required minimal ingredients, minimal tools, and just a little arm work to get it all together. That’s right, no need for an electric mixer for this one! Do it all by hand and you’ll be even more proud when it’s done.
The appeal of this cake was that it took some great flavors, raspberry and ricotta, and turned them into something mildly sweet, but surprisingly refreshing. Dare I say it’s an option for breakfast cake?! I declare it to be true.
How does one determine if a cake is breakfast-appropriate? Well, I brought this one to work and not only was it a big hit, but everyone took a slice (or two!) way before lunch time. In fact, the entire cake was gone before noon. 😮 If that’s not a declaration of breakfast cake, then well, I’m not sure what is.
Light, airy, and somewhat angel-ish, I loved the great texture of this cake which is probably due to the ricotta. I had never baked ricotta into a dessert before, but now I know what I’ve been missing - it’s awesome! And don’t worry - your cake will not taste like lasagna (I’m more familiar with ricotta in that form). Truthfully, I think this cake tastes like a little slice of heaven. :)
Last note: Raspberries, once again, give the cake a smidge of tartness, but not too much. Although, I must tell the truth, dear readers, as we are closing out this bake-off: I don’t love cooked raspberries.
I know, I know, the horror. The shock. Why am I baking with raspberries if I dislike them in baked goods?! Well, I tried to like them! I tried so hard I made two types of cake with them!
But I’m sticking to my sweet tooth on this one: I prefer very few fruits-in-baked-goods and raspberries aren’t at the top of my list. Sure, I will eat them, but blueberries rule the roost, in my opinion, for all of your berry cake requirements.
And it’s for that reason that I declare the Blueberry Cake with Almond and Cinnamon to be the winner of my Berry Cake Bake-Off. All three cakes were delicious, but the blueberry cake will be the recipe I reach for again and again. Wait. Who am I kidding? I’ll make all three again. I’m not a monster. 😋
Stay tuned for more baking adventures that will include cookies, finally baking a pie, maybe a brownie or two, and more.
My baking projects are far more frequent these days so check back soon! Nothing is off limits and everything is delicious. Who knows what Mollie Bakes will bring you next!