basil lemon cake with fresh berries

July 8th, 2009

Hot on the trail of last weeks happy hour that contained lemon and basil, I thought I’d continue the flavor love with basil lemon cake. Just as the drink was delicious, this cake hits the spot, whether it’s at a picnic or at the end of a long hot day. Top it with fresh berries and you’ve got yourself a little slice of heaven no matter where you eat it.

This recipe calls for the use of buttermilk, something I happened to have on hand after making homemade butter. *sidenote* Have you ever made homemade butter? The kind where you just shake cream in a jar? That is some crazy awesome stuff!! *end sidenote* Unfortunately I didn’t have enough on hand so I just put some lemon juice in some whole milk and let it sit for a few minutes. Anywho, once I had that whole buttermilk situation worked out, I zested a lemon and chopped some basil, then mixed the other ingredients until I had a lovely batter. I poured it into a springform pan and popped it in the oven.

While the cake was baking I combined some fresh strawberries and black raspberries I purchased on my trip to the union square greenmarket. I’m going to say it for the eighteen millionth time, but man o man there is something so wonderful about fresh berries from the market. They are just so dang lovely. I especially like the color and texture combination of these two berries. After admiring them for a bit I squashed them.

It’s not often that I bake a cake, so when I do, I have high hopes for it. When I pulled this one out of the oven I was immediately happy because nothing looked awry. Oh, and it smelled delicious. Once it had cooled off a while longer, I cut a few slices and topped each with a scoop of the berries. The berry mash soaks into the dense (but not heavy) cake and creates a lush textural extravaganza for the senses. The lemon and basil are there but are nice and subtle, giving the cake a lovely fresh flavor but also working well as a platform to play off of the berries. This really is a perfect summer cake.

basil lemon cake
modified from simply organic

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons buttermilk*
1 1/2 cups mixed berries such as raspberries and strawberries

preheat oven to 375°, lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until creamy.
Add the eggs, basil, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Beat until blended.
Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, alternating with buttermilk and beating on low speed until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a wooded toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove sides and cool completely.
Cut a slice and top with berries.

Cover well, but do not refrigerate unless you need to store it for more than 1-2 days.

*A good way to substitute buttermilk is add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk. For this recipe I think you could cheat at use 1 cup + 1 T milk.

Comments: 13 Total

  1. Dana

    July 8, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I love cakes like this – so simple and yet perfect at this time of year. I just recently purchased powdered buttermilk that you reconstitute with water. I use buttermilk often enough that I find it helpful to have some of this in my pantry.

  2. life according to celia

    July 8, 2009 at 10:51 am

    you’ve saved me! i’m going to a dinner party this friday and i’m supposed to bring dessert. for some reason, i always have trouble thinking of a good dessert (even though i started out as a pastry chef). thanks a million!

  3. samantha hahn

    July 8, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    omg delish….
    perfect for summer!

  4. Laura

    July 8, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    How much sugar did you use? I think you left it off the ingredient list…

  5. Jen

    July 8, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Eeek! I started making this before I realized that sugar was missing from the ingredients, as well as some of the instructions.

    The full instructions are here:

    (2nd recipe)

  6. Kelly

    July 8, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    oh my goodness. i’m so sorry i missed critical information the first time around. i’ve corrected all information so you can now make this delicious cake with ease. sorry about that.

  7. Jill

    July 18, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Just attempted this. After baking it for about 40 minutes, the top was crispy brown and the inside was still fairly gooey. I followed the instructions as written — anyone know what would cause this outcome? Kelly, please help! (Note: I did sneak a bite of a perfectly-cooked portion of the cake it was super tasty, so I really want to get it right!)

  8. Kelly

    July 18, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    hi jill,
    yikes, i’m not sure what to tell you. i double checked the recipe to make sure i wrote all the steps correctly and they are correct. i would definitely keep the cake in the oven for the full 45 minutes, maybe even 50 if it still seems undercooked. i’m really sorry i can’t help you more, i hope it works out for you.

    if anyone else out there has any ideas please feel free to chime in. it really is a delicious cake.

  9. Pingback: Must Make Monday – Anyone Hungry for Dessert? « The Handmade Experiment

    July 20, 2009 at 2:43 am
  10. Emily Flippin Maruna

    July 20, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Just featured you yummy looking cake on my blog, The Handmade Experiment in a list of recipes I want to try. Thanks for the inspiration!


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  13. Pingback: The Best First Birthday: 10 Kid-Friendly Cake Ideas - The Recipe Daily

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