Well, there’s a monster of a title for this dessert… but each component is so important that I just couldn’t leave any of them out!
Now that summer is drawing to a close I’ve been trying to take advantage of summer fruits as much as possible, so when I had occasion to make dessert for a crowd I decided to center it on fresh peaches, which looked great at the market and were just squeezably ripe (but sadly did not live up to their promise flavor-wise). Since one of my favorite uses of fresh fruit is to spoon it over an otherwise basic cake, I found a recipe that was only slightly fancied-up with brown butter, and pulled out my Gothic bundt pan to make it look extra pretty. For once, the cake unmolded perfectly (see tips below) and the brown butter added some nice depth of flavor. I could have stopped there, of course, but once I tasted the peaches I knew I’d need something more.
Remember all of the candied lemon peel I had left over from my lemonade concentrate? I had to do something with it, so I decided to bake cake. Cake is always the answer. I decided to go with a pound cake, because I figured that the crumb would need to be fairly dense in order to support the chewy chunks of peel. And what’s a lemon cake without a lemon syrup to soak it in? And a glaze? Talk about gilding the lily…
The finished cake is incredibly moist and tender, and the syrup and glaze combine for a slightly crackly outer crust that immediately gives way to a melt-in-your-mouth icing, full of lemon flavor. While the cake doesn’t slice neatly– too soft and moist– it’s really delicious, and even better the day after it’s baked. Plus, due to the moisture and the glaze it’ll keep, uncovered at room temperature, for at least three days without drying out. Probably longer, but I didn’t have any left to check after three days!
It’s no secret that I adore cute food, and cute food that’s been miniaturized is automatically cuter than the original. So when I saw these cute-tastic Japanese animal donuts, I immediately tried to think of ways to make them myself, only extra-adorable. That’s where my mini-donut maker came in.
Another one of my kitchen unitaskers, the mini-donut maker churns out ridiculously precious little donuts, 6 at a time, without all that frying. No, the donuts don’t have the classic texture of a fried donut– firm to the initial bite, then giving way to pillowy softness– but they’re perfectly respectable baked donuts, and did I mention they’re cute?
I’ve made these with regular boxed cake mix before, but the soft fluffiness of the cake made the donuts one-dimensional and boring– plus, the relative thinness of the cake batter made the little donut wells more difficult to fill properly. I’ve learned that boxed pound cake mix actually works best for mini donuts– it’s thick enough that it can be easily piped into the donut wells, it rises to just the right height to make a nice rounded donut, and the pound cake flavor is pretty close to a classic old-fashioned donut, which is my favorite. Sure, I could make my own pound cake mix from scratch and use that, but these are so small and will be coated with so much sugary icing that no one is going to notice the flavor of the cake– at least not the difference between homemade and box mix.
Anyway, so I mixed up the cake mix per the box directions, piped it into the heated donut maker, cooked for 3 minutes (2:30 if you want them extra-soft), and pretty soon I had a big batch (about 6 dozen) of tiny donuts. On to the decorating!