Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Citrus Buttermilk Sheet Cake with Duck Eggs

Yesterday was my birthday and I decided to bake myself a cake. I still have the dreaded ‘tiny oven’, so I chose a boring sheet cake instead of a pretty layered one. Poor me, I know. This wasn’t just any sheet cake though, it was made with fresh duck eggs. There is a rad little family I know that has ducks and chickens in their backyard and they donated some fresh duck eggs to my kitchen. Thank you, friend Oliver! You may be asking yourself, ‘what’s the big deal with duck eggs?‘. I didn’t know either until last year when I read about the benefits of baking with them. These eggs have more protein than chicken eggs do, which gives them more structure when cooked. Extra protein creates more loft in cakes which makes it so much better! Isn’t it wonderful?! Using duck eggs in your baked goods results in fluffier, moister and richer cakes than those made with chicken eggs. Jamie Oliver told me this and I totally believe him. Just in case you don’t have the faith in Jamie Oliver that I do, there are a few other websites that talk about the benefits of using these eggs in your cakes and I will post the addresses at the end of my rant if you want to learn more.

I usually buy my duck eggs from Seward Co-op, who actually gets them from LTD Farms, but I was so excited to get my first eggs of the year from my generous friends. It was really cool being able to see the actual ducks that produced the eggs I was about to use. I love the texture, which almost feels waxy to me, and the look of the shell of the duck egg too. They are much thicker and are a little bit more difficult to break into. Since they have a thicker shell it gives them a longer shelf life. Who knew?! You can keep duck eggs for about three weeks in the refrigerator, some can last longer but you just have to check them over. It all depends on the freshness of the egg when you receive it to see how long you can keep it in your refrigerator. Makes sense, right? Once you crack that duck egg open, you’ll notice that the egg white is thicker and the yolk is a super bright yellow. If you have a chance to, I would recommend baking with duck eggs at least once to try it out. I have even tried them in cookies and they worked great.

Back to my birthday cake. I chose this particular cake because it seemed light and fresh. Perfect for a May birthday. We found out that this cake tastes best the day it is made. The next day it gets just a little dry, but it’s still quite edible. On top of this particular cake it has just a simple powdered sugar glaze. The glaze seriously took me about a minute to make with a whisk. One of the best parts of the whole thing is the sprinkle of reserved citrus sugar on top of the glaze. It added a crunch and a little more sweetness to it. This cake would actually be great to bring along to a picnic or something this summer. Super easy to make. Hope you get to give it a shot.

Citrus Buttermilk Sheet Cake
Adapted from Cook’s Country

For the Cake:
2 ½ cups cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 tablespoons grated lemon and orange zest
¼ cup lemon and orange juice, mixed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature OR 3 duck eggs

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Directions for Cake:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9X13-inch baking dish. Sift flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Combine buttermilk, lemon/orange juice, and vanilla in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.

Using your mixer, beat granulated sugar and lemon/orange zest on medium speed until moist and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer ¼ cup of the sugar mixture to a small bowl and cover it for later use. Add butter to remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and yolk, one at a time. Mix each egg until incorporated. Make sure your mixing speed is on low and then add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternating between the two beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until smooth, but don’t over mix.

Scrape batter into buttered baking dish and smooth out the top. Bake about 25-30 minutes until cake is golden brown or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

Directions for Glaze:
Whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and buttermilk together until smooth. You may have to add a little extra lemon juice to make it a little more runny. I did. Gently spread glaze over warm cake and sprinkle evenly with your reserved citrus sugar mixture. Let cool completely, at least 2 hours. Serve when ready!

Resources for learning about duck eggs:

Urban Homestead

Local Harvest

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