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Aug 6, 2005 03:24 AM

Raspberry rhapsody cake aka Sir Gawain's ultra simple summer fruit cake (long!)

  • c

Sir Gawain, I could kiss you! My husband wouldn't even care b/c he loved your cake too! I enjoy many things food but don't rave about much; however, your ultra simple summer fruit cake, which I modified a bit and am now dubbing my raspberry rhapsody cake, is rave-worthy. So simple, yet so rhapsodic. A recipe worth keeping forever, passing on, and tweaking in all sorts of ways.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this cake bears resemblance to galleygirl's pear tart, which I made once in the winter. No offense to Madame GG since her cake rightfully has many suitors, but my heart fluttered more w/ Sir Gawain's version. The crumb was a bit more delicate and tender and there was a tinge more dimension in flavor that, w/o seeing the original tart recipe, I can't quite pinpoint the reason.

SG's recipe isn't just for summer fruit, but I think could showcase most any fruit nicely. Flavor profiles can be altered by adding various spices, zests, extracts, and flavorings. Certain fruits might benefit from heavy cream instead of milk. As I was making the cake, I also thought how it would be great to use it for upside down cake by placing firm fruit and some brown sugar on the base and pouring the batter over it. I think I will try this reverse method w/ plums soon!

I’m getting ahead of myself, so back to this raspberry rhapsody cake. I threw on about a pint of berries and would have used a little more if I had some. Since we all know that recipes were made to be tinkered with, these were my alterations followed by comments:

1. Used buttermilk instead of milk. Based on a poster's comment about buttermilk in baking, I added 1/2 tsp. of baking soda for rising. Comments: I loved this! Buttermilk gave it a tender crumb and subtle tang, and I don't think it inhibited rising.

2. Some of you know that I've been gaga over superfine sugar since my pavlova creation, so I used 3/4 c. superfine sugar in the batter. Comments: I'm quickly realizing that this ethereal sugar is nothing short of a godsend for baked goods and bakers. It melded into the butter instantly and, when I tasted the final batter, it was so silky and light. I also think this sugar afforded more even browning, as the top of my cake was the same exact color as the bottom!

3. Only had salted butter on hand so used that instead. Comments: This surprisingly had no negative impact that I could tell. In fact, I've read somewhere that some bakers prefer salted butter for certain items since the salt is so evenly distributed and infused.

4. Added the zest of one lemon to batter. Comments: Liked this w/ raspberry.

5. Used 1.5 TB brown sugar on top of cake instead of granulated sugar. Comments: Liked this and it really blended into the cake once it turned golden. Amount and type of sugar on top is great way to moderate varying fruits and sugar content.

6. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer. Comments: I was going to do it all by hand like SG suggested, but after starting, I shifted over since I think the KA gives better results in this case.

Last comment is that after baking it for 10 min. at 350F, it only took 40 min. (instead of 50-60) at 325F for it to get done. I have a thermometer so double checked, but my gas oven seems to consistently bake things in less time than called for in recipes. Here's a link to SG's original recipe:

Well, the final result inspired me enough to have a mini photo shoot of this raspberry beauty (w/ Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” playing in the background; not really, but I wish), so below is one photo w/ a link to a few more. Thanks for introducing us, SG!



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  1. Carb Lover, you're an inspiration to food photographers everywhere (and not just amateurs, either)! I don't even read your posts right away anymore. I just scroll down to the photo, drool a little, then sit back to see what you've typed.

    Although I personally liked GallyGirl's pear tart better, I think I need to try Sir Gawain's cake with buttermilk before I make a final decision. I also like pears a lot more than I like plums, so that might warp my opinion.

    I share your love of superfine sugar. If there's ever an occassion fo rme to bake two identical cakes, I think I'm going to test the storebought versus homemade (in food processor).

    1. The raspberry background color is really the icing on the cake (so to speak!) of your raspberry cake photography, carb lover!

      Thanks for posting.

      It's funny, I've definitely decided that next time (and there will be a next time!) I will use the KA. I think I would have had a finer crumb if I had beaten butter/sugar/egg mixture longer. I decided to do it by hand the first time just to follow the rules. Blueberries are next on my agenda, and I'm considering using some corn meal in the cake, as I love blueberries and corn. Mmmmm. With some buttermilk? Mmmmm.


      3 Replies
      1. re: smokey

        I'm glad you appreciated the red background as much as I did. I got all excited when I realized our red walls would be the perfect backdrop!

        I like using my KA mixer b/c I like to cream the butter and sugar really well til it's pale yellow and fluffy. There's just no way that I could replicate that by hand. It was worth lugging that beast out.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          I only said "by hand" in the original post not because it's "the rules" but because I don't have a stand mixer (have a really tiny NYC kitchen, if it can even be called that), and I haven't noticed a significant difference in texture between doing it by a hand mixer and by hand (as I did once when I was too lazy to drag the hand mixer out of the cupboard).

          Also, it always placates my afraid-of-baking friends who tend to protest they "don't have the equipment" for baking...

          1. re: Sir Gawain

            sorry, Sir Gawain, I was joking more than anything about the rules. I know I could have gone into the basement and lugged up the KA--I was just being lazy.


      2. m
        Marcia M. D'A

        Thanks for the picture as well as your glorious description. If I make this with raspberries, I might add a tablespoon of framboise eaux de vie for extra fruit flavor. A small glass of said brandy would be delightful served with the cake, come to think of it.
        So agree with you about superfine sugar. Since I've been using it, I've never had any problems with my sour cream pound cake, which can be tricky.

        1. Ah! I feel so--- validated.

          The greatness of this cake truly lies in its endless variability and tweakability, and its amazing simplicity. I make it with raspberries about half the time (frozen organic ones; good fresh ones I just eat au naturel), but seem to use a LOT more berries than you did.

          OK, I'll make it with superfine sugar the next tiime...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sir Gawain

            Thanks for your and others' comments thus far. I think what made this simple cake so perfect for me was that all the baking stars were aligned in my kitchen that day! Well, the only problem was that I had a pint of raspberries but had to throw out some due to mold (painful!) since I delayed using them. I will def. use more fruit next time!

            And you're right, SG, this cake is amazing for breakfast w/ my morning coffee or tea. I loved this version for something delicate like raspberries, but think I may use cream instead of milk and add a couple more TB of butter if using apples, pears, or firmer fruits.