Kristin Donnelly is devoted to her mother’s one-bowl Bundt cake because of its clove and cinnamon spices and its simplicity. As an exchange student in France, she even paid top dollar for chocolate chips and applesauce at an American market to make it for her host family. Today she adds a kick of black pepper to the batter and serves each slice with a cool-sour dollop of crème fraîche.
The French call pound cake quatre-quarts (“four-fourths”) because it is made with equal parts flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Jacques Pépin’s mother, aunt and cousin all have their versions. He likes to fold in candied citrus peels to make a French fruit cake; he also loves plain slices dipped in espresso.
This moist cake, topped by a generous layer of cardamom-spiced, pecan-dotted crumbs, is a fabulous gift. F&W’s Kate Heddings has presented the cake along with the Calphalon pan she baked it in, fresh-ground coffee beans and a glass container of heavy cream.
“I snagged this dessert from my Scandinavian grandmother,” says Mehmet Gürs. “She used a wood-burning oven, a cast-iron skillet and fresh island berries.” Use additional raspberries when figs are not in season.
In the winter, Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) fruit, like the kind sold by Cascadian Farm, is often a superior alternative to fresh fruit shipped to the US. IQF peaches are terrific in this winning coffee cake recipe.
For a simple but elegant dessert, Countess Florence Daniel Marzotto chose to serve a basic sponge cake baked with fragrant almond flour, split in half and filled with a layer of tender pears. Cooked in butter in a covered pan, the pears steam in their own juices, releasing a syrupy sauce all their own.
“Eddie makes a mean pound cake,” Damien Schaefer says admiringly of chef Eddie Russell. Russell garnished slices of his tender, crumbly cake with fresh figs he picked from a nearby tree, but it’s equally good without them.