Simple Bundt cake holds its own without fanfare

Tessa Huff

I am always trying to think of new dessert recipes to have on hand for easy entertaining — recipes that are fresh, simple and allow you to spend time with your guests instead of being stuck in the kitchen.

While this cake isn’t dripping in caramel or encrusted with sprinkles, the flavors are pure and nothing short of delicious. The rich ricotta adds depth and the fresh lemon zest creates vibrancy. A slice of this Bundt cake would be great on its own with a cup of coffee, but it is even better with a simple vanilla bean glaze and slivered almonds.

For easy entertaining, this moist cake can be made ahead of time and dressed just before serving. If covered well in plastic wrap, it will stay fresh for a couple of days in the refrigerator and up to a few weeks in the freezer. The vanilla bean glaze whips up in just seconds and can be drizzled on the cake before your guests arrive or heading out to your next event.

Skip the slicing, filling and frosting required for other layer cakes, and get straight to enjoying this flavorful Bundt cake.

Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake

Serves 12.

For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup ricotta

1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

For the glaze:

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons milk

Sliced almonds, to top

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan extremely well. Sift together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat butter on high until light and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. With the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs one at a time. Add in the lemon zest and lemon juice, followed by the ricotta.

Stop mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester or skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean or with just few crumbs.

Let cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you can comfortably touch the pan. Use a flexible rubber spatula to release the edges of the cake from the pan, then invert the cake onto a large plate or cooling rack. Cool completely.

Make-Ahead: Once the cake has completely cooled, you can cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a few days or freeze it for several weeks. Allow the cake to thaw in the fridge before glazing.

To make the glaze: Combine the vanilla bean seeds with the powdered sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth.

To assemble: Carefully level the bottom of the Bundt cake with a large serrated knife. Drizzle the cooled cake with the vanilla bean glaze and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Recipe Notes

■ Be sure to thoroughly grease and flour every nook and cranny of your Bundt pan.

■ If the cake feels stuck in the pan when you try to invert it, turn the cake back upside down. Carefully soak a clean kitchen towel with hot water and drape over the cake in the pan for about 5 minutes. The hot towel will create steam and help release the cake from the pan.

■ Avoid using a knife to release the cake. A knife may cut into the sides of the cake since most Bundt pans are oddly shaped.

■ For thicker or runnier glaze, adjust the milk quantity until desired consistency.

Per serving: 521 calories; 23 g fat (13 g saturated fat; 40 percent calories from fat); 71 g carbohydrates; 44 g sugar; 161 mg cholesterol; 308 mg sodium; 9 g protein; 1 g fiber.