Sometimes simple is best, and I never crave simplicity in food as much as I do in summer. When the sun is shining and you're itching to get outside and pour yourself a glass of Pimms, it's best to stick to the simple things - which is easy to do, because summer produce is so delicious. Don't get me wrong, I love a hearty winter stew as much as the next girl, but the reams of fresh produce to choose from in summer is so much more inspiring than the paltry winter vegetables that grow in the colder months. I get a bit giddy in the greengrocers, piling my basket high with berries, peaches, radishes, asparagus, courgettes, rhubarb and spring greens. The options seem endless, but the most important thing is keeping things simple and letting the flavours come through.
Which makes this the perfect cake to enjoy in the summer. Baking is not a particularly summery activity; it fills your kitchen with unnecessary heat and keeps you inside. But this cake is as quick and easy as they come, so if you are craving something sweet then this is the one for you. The cream cheese makes the sponge moist, the crumb is just beautiful, and the vanilla is a perfect partner to all of that summer fruit. The bundt cake shape makes it seem that bit more excited than your standard loaf or layer cake, but without any extra effort. It really is a win-win sort of situation.
I served my cake with a drizzle of white chocolate on top and some fresh strawberries & raspberries. It's a classic combination, and one that doesn't need thinking about, but this cake will go with any summer fruit, really. Perhaps a bit of cream or ice cream on the side. Or maybe a dusting of icing sugar. There's no pressure. We're keeping this simple.
- 250g plain flour
- 1&1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 200g cream cheese
- 325g caster sugar
- 185g unsalted butter
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- Grease a bundt cake tin well and set to one side. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Using an electric mixer set to a low-medium speed, mix the cream cheese until soft. Add in the butter and sugar and beat for another 3 minutes until well-combined and fluffy.
- Pour in the vanilla and stir until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a minute or so each time.
- Turn the mixer down to low and add in the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated and then turn off the mixer. Stir gently by hand to finish the job.
- Pour batter into the bundt cake tin and place in the oven. Cook for 50 minutes - 1 hour until a skewer or knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Check about halfway through that it's cooking evenly, and rotate if necessary (the front part of my oven always cooks things quicker!).
- Leave to cool for 15 minutes or so after removing from the oven, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
- Serve with fresh summer fruit and, preferably, a glass of Pimms!
Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook