We’ve been invited to dinner, and so I offered to bring dessert. I immediately thought of this recipe for Blackberries and Peaches in Sweet Basil Syrup with Cornmeal Pound Cake, which I spotted recently in an e-mail newsletter from Garden & Gun magazine. (What? You don’t know G&G? You should, absolutely. It’s a wonderful, New South publication with great writing and recipes that those of us north of the Mason-Dixon can appreciate. If you bypass the magazine, do sign up for their newsletter.)
Anyhoo, I figured this dessert would be perfect—easily made ahead and transported, and a great way to highlight seasonal farmers’ market fruit.
I assembled the fruit: sliced peaches and blackberries bathed in a sweet wine syrup flavored with lemon and basil.
Then onto the cake. I’ve made pound cakes countless times, and they’re not complex creatures. For whatever reason, I envisioned bread-like slices of cake beneath a pile of fruit on the plate. So I used a Pyrex loaf pan instead of the 9-inch round cake pan the recipe suggested.
After the requisite baking time, I poked a toothpick into the cake. Something seemed off. I added another 4 minutes to the timer … then another 5 … and then another 2. The top was a gorgeous, nutty brown color, but the texture seemed … hmm. So I took the cake out of the oven—and in very short order, it caved in on itself, the center completely underbaked. The middle third of the cake was a gummy mess.
Surely, I couldn’t tote this disaster to dinner. Being the “make-lemonade-with-life’s-lemons” type, I whacked the fully baked ends off, wrapped them in plastic and saved them for another day. I had enough ingredients to make another cake (flour, eggs, sugar and butter being staples in my kitchen).
The upshot of all this—and kitchen disasters most often do have an upshot, unless you catch something on fire—is that I salvaged the cooked part of the middle section and ate it, along with half a sliced peach, for dessert at noon. I mean, who has dessert at lunchtime? As an added bonus, I got to lick the batter bowl.