Sunday, April 29, 2007

Almost-summer fruit cake

For our Tuesday night book club dinner, I had offered to make dessert, and although I wasn't constrained by war-time parameters, I was constrained by my general laziness towards dessert. (Now I am going to get on my soap box.) I think dessert should be simple. My sister and my friend Leslie, former pastry chefs, would probably disagree, but after a big meal, the best thing to eat is a little something sweet, something to round out the meal, to make you feel particularly happy and cozy inside, but not something that's going to weigh you down and make you forget the good taste of everything you ate before dessert. I love sugar and I love cream, so I am definitely advocating more than a piece of fruit, but for me, the point of dinner is not dessert, it's dinner. I've always found dessert-focused restaurants slightly nauseating--a tasting menu of desserts, are you kidding me?

So there are a few desserts I make over and over: sorbet or ice cream with maybe a little nut cookie (from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone"); galleygirl's pear tart which is moistened with the juices of the ripest, most fragrant pears you can find; and a simple summer fruit cake, which I also first found recommended on Chowhound. (I rarely make chocolate desserts because actual chocolate always tastes so much better to me than chocolate-flavored anything.)

For our book club, I trotted out the summer fruit cake once again, and again, it did not disappoint. The recipe is so easy that I mixed the ingredients at 9 pm on Monday night and had it baked and cooling by the time I went to bed at 10:30. I had all the ingredients just sitting in my pantry, with a bag of frozen strawberries in the freezer just for occasions like this. I've made this cake with all kinds of fruit. Raspberries are particularly good, cranberries very pretty for holiday dinners, and plums arranged in concentric circles are really beautiful. I like to run the cake under the broiler for 30 seconds at the second, so the top gets really caramelized, and then dust with some powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream. I ran out of powdered sugar, but it didn't matter, it was still delicious.


Leslie said...

I agree -- simple desserts are better (although I feel like people expect more of me so I sometimes make something a little fancier). Didn't I make elementary school cupcakes for your 30th birthday? But I also think a nice dessert helps to leave a good impression of the meal you cooked (especially for those times your "experiment" of an entree doesn't quite work out).

AppleSister said...

Heh heh, I'm always worried that my "experimental" dessert will fail!