Buttermilk-Citrus Coffee CakePhoto Credit : Heath Robbins
If you like citrus, this is the cake for you. It gets a flavor punch from three sources: the zest in the batter, the candied citrus slices on top, and the citrus syrup poured over the cake while it’s still warm. With such a pretty presentation, it also makes a terrific gift.
1 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
First, prepare your candied citrus: Stir 1 cup of the sugar and the water together in a large skillet. Set over high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Halve the orange, lemon, and lime crosswise. Using a very sharp knife or a mandoline, cut three very thin slices (crosswise) from each fruit. Gently drop them into the syrup and simmer until the slices are translucent, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove with tongs, reserving the syrup, and set on wax paper to cool and firm up.
Use a grater to zest half of each orange, lemon, and lime; combine the zests in a bowl. Now juice all the remaining fruit and combine in a bowl; you want 6 tablespoons of juice total. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350° and set a rack to the middle position. Grease a standard loaf pan with butter and dust with flour. Set aside.
Using a standing or handheld mixer on high speed, beat the butter and the remaining 2/3 cup of the sugar in a large bowl until pale and very fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically. Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture; beat well. Now add the citrus zest and 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice; beat to combine. Don’t worry if the mixture curdles; it will smooth out when you add the flour.
With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and stir. Add half the buttermilk and mix briefly until smooth. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk, then the last of the flour mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared bread pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup: Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of citrus juice to the poaching syrup from the citrus slices.
Remove the cake from the oven and let sit 5 minutes in the pan. While the cake is still warm, poke the top all over with a toothpick inserted all the way. Pour the syrup (all of it) over the entire cake as evenly as possible. Let sit for an additional 20 minutes to soak up the syrup; then carefully remove the cake from the pan and cool it on a wire rack. Arrange the citrus slices over the cake, then serve.