Heavy. Humble. Homey. Kinda flat. You can eat it with your hands. Spicy, but not crazy-spicy. It's like one of those really plain Italian cakes that people nevertheless like. And here's what it truly reminds me of: Mom's custard pie, the kind she always made for Papa (my grandfather). Take a bite of that pie, chew it a few times: this cake is kind of like that, except chewier. Hmm, sounds delicious, right? Recipe from the same Bon Appetit issue as the tuna noodle casserole below. B.A. (bad ass!) would have you pair this with creme fraiche and a pear compote, but one was unavailable and the other required work. So I'm eating this plain.
- 1 C plus 1 T flour
- 1/4 C corn starch
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t (scant) baking powder
- 1/4 t baking soda
- 1/8 t allspice
- 1/8 t ground ginger
- 1/8 t ground black pepper <-- kinda weird but you won't notice it
- 1/8 t ground whole star anise <-- didn't do it because I only *kind of* like star anise
- 1/2 C (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 3/4 C sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 3-inch vanilla bean, split lengthwise <-- I saved the bean remnants and put them in a jar with some sugar. Nigella is always saying you should do this, so now I have some vanilla sugar.
- 1/4 t finely grated lime peel
- 3/4 C buttermilk
- powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Line pan with round of parchment paper.
Whisk the first 9 ingredients (i.e. the dry ones) into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add lime peel; beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions, scraping down bowl occasionally. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until beginning to brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan on cooling rack.
And then! See what I did up there? I put a paper doily on top and sifted powdered sugar over it. Doily: lifted. Awesome rose-windowish pattern: revealed! Jeff was impressed until I told him that I had seen Martha Stewart do it years ago (or somebody else, I forget).