Using buttermilk as the liquid in a custard cake and adding just the right about of poppy seeds, I achieved what, when chilled and served with roasted strawberries, tastes not unlike a cheesecake.
About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna and see her adventures in creativity on her website, VerySmallAnna.
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- Yield:serves 8 to 9
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:2 hours
- For the Cake:
- 4 eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 2 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- For the Strawberries:
- 1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered, depending on size
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the Cake: Set a rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8- by 8- inch square pan or a 9-inch pie plate and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium bowl with a handheld mixer, whip yolks with 3/4 cups sugar until pale and very fluffy. Slowly add butter and continue whipping until completely combined. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and poppy seeds. With mixer off, add dry mixture all at once and mix on medium-low speed to combine. Gradually add buttermilk and vanilla, continuing to mix on a medium-low speed until completely combined.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy, then add 1 tablespoon sugar and whip until stiff and glossy. Gently whisk half of meringue into batter, then fold in other half with whisk. Scrape into prepared baking vessel and bake for 45-60 minutes, until lightly browned on top and still somewhat jiggly in the center, but not liquidy. Allow to cool for a couple minutes, then gently run a paring knife around edge of cake. Once cooled to room temperature, chill in refrigerator.
For the Berries: Set a rack in center of oven, preheat to 400°F. In a baking dish at least 2 inches deep, combine berries with sugar, balsamic, lemon zest and vanilla, stirring to coat evenly. Roast for 20 minutes, gently shaking the pan every 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving warm or room temperature with cake.