The Lee Brothers know something about great food. Winners of the coveted James Beard Award for Cookbook of the Year, Matt and Ted Lee have a modern, magical touch with Southern cooking. Dishes like oyster soup, collard greens and even Caesar salad take on a decidedly Southern influence.
Among the star recipes in their cookbook, “The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor,” are these individual dessert cakes. Who can resist a dessert that bakes in less than 10 minutes in a standard nonstick muffin pan? The Lees describe these cakes as a combination of warm vanilla custard comfort along with the tangy flavor of buttermilk pound cake. Serve these hot, with sugar-dusted raspberries — the warmth of the cake softens the raspberries just enough to give them a jammy consistency. This is my go-to seriously simple summer dessert that always receives raves.
Fresh raspberries are just the jumping off point for creative variations. Check out what’s available in your market, and try other fruit variations. Make the cakes as described and serve with warm cooked plums in brandy, strawberries with some balsamic or port syrup, or maybe sliced apricots or peaches briefly cooked with agave syrup and bourbon. Don’t forget the whipped cream or creme fraiche to top off the cakes. The authors note that if you don’t own a nonstick muffin pan, spray your pan with cooking spray (or grease the pan with butter, then dust it with flour) before pouring in the batter.
Buttermilk Pudding Cakes with Sugared Fruit
For the cakes
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (3 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
8 ounces (2 cups) fresh raspberries (substitute blackberries, mangos or sliced peaches if desired)
1/4 cup sugar
Whipped cream (optional)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack positioned in the top third of the oven.
Sift the flour with the baking powder in a large bowl.
In a second large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until creamy and yellow, and then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, sugar and butter (the mixture will look curdy and broken; that is fine).
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and whisk until the batter is combined and smooth.
Divide the batter among 8 standard-size (3-ounce) nonstick muffin-pan cups, filling them two-thirds full.
Bake for 9 minutes. Check the cakes by inserting a knife tip between the rim of the cake and the muffin cup and pulling gently to expose the side of the cake. If the side of the cake appears evenly browned, the cakes will hold together when inverted and are ready. If not, bake for another minute and check again.
While the cakes bake, place the raspberries in a medium bowl. Shower them with the sugar, and then use your hand to gently toss them in the sugar until they have a light dusting on them. (If the berries are overripe and bursting, or wet because you washed them, the sugar will dissolve on them. This is fine — they’ll still taste great!)
When the cakes are done, invert them onto individual small plates and divide the berries among them, mounding them on top and around the cakes, and top with a dollop of whipped cream (if using). Serves 8.
Per serving (without whipped cream): 195 calories; 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 32 percent calories from fat); 29 g carbohydrates; 17 g sugar; 63 mg cholesterol; 154 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber.