Now that summer is here, all warm and aromatic and fruity, I’m taking my time. I spent a weekend in Vermont with the family, just long enough to grill up everything, make some fresh pie and drink and laugh until the big supermoon blended into a bright sunrise. It was one of those weekend’s just made for this cake – tart, sweet, berry-filled and boozed up just a bit. Make Mary’s cake this weekend, folks, and then repeat all month long. -Maggie
Ask anyone in New England if they were looking forward to the warmer weather this year– summer, specifically – and you’d better clear your calendar because you’d be in for, at a minimum, several minutes of horror stories from this past winter.
“It was the worst!” they’d practically shout, stiffening up as if they were, at that very moment, bracing themselves to open the door and face the sharp cold to shovel out the damn driveway. Again! Even though they just shoveled it 15 minutes ago!
And when I say “they”, I mainly mean me. Because although I consider myself Fall’s number one fan, I was desperately excited for summer to arrive. Our winter had been an especially brutal one, and to be outside without counting the seconds when I could be back inside feels like a true luxury.
“Lingering” has become my word of choice these days, and that’s exactly how we’ve been spending these first few weeks of summer. Like being a little late for work because we’re sitting on the patio enjoying our morning coffee. Having one too many cocktails at lunch because we can’t bear to leave the outdoor deck of a favorite weekend haunt. Extending dinner with friends late into the evening as we sit outside at the creaky old table that’s shaky after being piled high with snow year after year after year.
Prolonging meals with friends is a specialty of mine. At any other time of the year, it means serving an almost alarming amount of courses of food and drink, but during the summer when we’re all in the mood for lighter fare, I simply entice our company to stay just a little bit longer with the promise of a fabulous dessert. Around that creaky old table, hugged by glowing string lights and that ultra-content feeling you have when you know you’re just where you should be at that very moment, they never fail to linger.
This cake is a real grand finale. I like to make it the evening ahead, keeping it in the fridge so it can stiffen up a bit. Throw together the berries the day of, giving yourself at least thirty minutes for them to macerate. Be sure to sift powdered sugar on top just before serving – it looks gorgeous and adds a gentle bit of sweetness. And sipping the limoncello while you cook is allowed – and encouraged!
Goat Cheese Cake with Boozy Berries
For the Cake:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for pan
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch for the pan
- 11 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
- Grated lemon zest from one lemon (at least 1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the Boozy Berries:
- 3 cups mixed berries
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 ounces limoncello
- Preheat oven to 350°. Butter the inside of a springform pan and dust with sugar, shaking out any excess. Note: I used a 7-inch springform pan, since I wanted a smaller yet thicker cake. A 9-inch would work just fine, too.
- Using an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks two at a time, making sure they are fully combined into the batter and scraping down sides of bowl between additions. Reduce speed to low, add the flour, and mix until just blended.
- In a separate bowl, using clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the goat cheese mixture until just blended; then fold in remaining egg whites in the same manner. Scrape the mixture into the springform pan and tap the pan to level the batter.
- Bake until the top is golden brown and set, but jiggles a bit in the center – about 40 to 45 minutes for a 7-inch pan, or 30 to 35 minutes for a 9-inch pan. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in pan.
- Mix the berries, sugar, and limoncello together and let sit for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Run a knife around the insides of the pan and unmold the cake to remove the cake from the pan.
- Serve at room temperature, topped with the berries at the last moment.
Photos taken and styled by Mary Swen
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