When the heat of the summer is finally here in Minnesota, it’s perfect weather for outdoor entertaining. Dessert is a must, but it needs to be light and simple. This Butter Cake with Mixed Berry Salsa is a great dessert to serve after a fun afternoon or in the evening at a casual gathering of friends. The fruit makes it light, and the addition of basil and candied ginger creates a sensational flavor profile that will raise some eyebrows – in a good way!
This recipe is also easy to make ahead. The salsa can be made and kept in the fridge for up to 4 hours; the cake can be made the day ahead.
If you are making everything the day of the party, start with the salsa so it has time for the flavors to mingle and meld. The first step is chopping the strawberries. I like to slice off the tops rather than digging out the stems, which is also a perfectly fine option. Rinse them well in a colander before you begin cutting and after the tops are off – I find dirt hides under the stem, so I like to give them a second washing to get off any grit.
Then, chop them into small pieces, similar to the size of tomatoes in a chunky salsa. Next, rinse the basil and pull the leaves off the stems. (Our bunnies love the discarded stems of basil!)
To chop the basil leaves, I like to bunch them up so they’re easier to cut. Watch your fingers!
Add the basil to a small bowl or, as I’ve done, into the 4-cup measure I used to measure the 2 cups of chopped berries.
Add the other salsa ingredients, too, including the powdered sugar to sweeten the berries a bit.
Add the other berries and zest the tablespoon of lime peel – I used two limes to get that amount of zest. I approximated the amount as I zested it right into the measuring cup! The recipe calls for 1/2 cup each of blueberries and raspberries, but the raspberries in my store didn’t look that great, so I went with a full cup of blueberries.
Next, I juiced the two limes, which produced 3 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed juice. This really makes the flavors fresh and bright.
The last ingredient is crystallized ginger, which comes in jars or bags of chunks like this. Look for it in the baking aisle, by the nuts and dried fruits.
It is a little sticky to cut into small pieces. You can toss the pieces or dip the knife into a little powdered sugar to help with the stickiness.
When the ginger pieces are about pea-size or smaller, add them to the salsa and stir it all together!
Cover the salsa and pop it into the fridge while you make the cake.
Begin the cake by buttering the bottom only of a loaf pan.
Next, flour the pan by sprinkling a couple tablespoons of flour on the bottom and tapping out the excess.
Next, make the batter. It begins as many cakes do, by mixing the softened butter with sugar.
After 3-5 minutes, including a few stops to scrape down the sides with a spatula, the butter and sugar will be nice and creamy. Then, add the fresh eggs and almond extract. Continue to mix until well mixed and creamy.
Next, with the mixer speed on low, add the flour, baking soda and salt.
When the dry ingredients are just mixed in, add the half and half. I used the fat-free version, which makes a delicious, fine-grained cake.
The batter is done and ready to spread into the prepared pan. Smooth the top and pop it into the oven to bake for about an hour.
he cake is done when a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
After 10 minutes, run a butter knife around the edges and flip the pan over onto a cooling rack. Then, right away, gently lift the cake with both hands and turn it right-side-up to cool completely.
Beautiful! Loaf cakes like mine sometimes “crack” on top. This is common with cakes like this one. The cake will be just fine to serve with the fruit salsa.
When the cake is cool, you can slice and serve it. Add whipped cream if you like – I found it was a nice balance to the sweet-tart fruit.
There’s nothing like slices of light buttery cake topped with fruit and a dollop of whipped cream as you enjoy a beautiful Minnesota summer night. If it’s too hot or the mosquitoes are moving in, dessert can always be a good reason to move inside! Fast!
Try this Butter Cake with Mixed Berry Salsa recipe for your family or for a dinner party – I’d love to know what you thought of the ginger and basil accents in the fruit salsa.
Original publish: June 4, 2012. Liz was paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.