Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sweeter Side of BBQ

My family loves to entertain. If there's a holiday, birthday, anniversary, engagement, communion or and other occasion my mom and stepdad can make up, you can bet that the end result will be something along the lines of his entire family, my grandparents and Andrew coming to my house and being served (or serving themselves) a feast with quantities of food that would rival one of Henry VIII's banquets. This past Sunday was no exception - the whole entourage showed up for the first backyard BBQ of the year. We had planned earlier parties this season, but since the weather was never cooperating and it seemed like Summer this year was a total fallacy they were scrapped.

Aside from the Casatiello bread from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, simple food - potato and green salads, deviled eggs and watermelon - lined our buffet table along with the usual suspects of burgers and sausages. Or should I say hockey pucks and charcoal rods? Yes, my stepdad is the antithesis of a BBQ king, although he definitely thinks otherwise. Regardless of the fact that one of our grills (he bought a charcoal one on a whim even though we had an expensive propane one already) was gas-fired, and the loaded charcoal grill was more than capable of fueling a perfect bed of coals, the "man of the BBQ" felt the need to empty an entire bottle of accelerant into the bowels of the 'cues. Can we say flamethrower? Of course, it then became impossible to put anything remotely near the grill rack so he and a couple of family members went on a walk through the woods first... but before they left he sprayed more lighter fluid into the charcoal one so the fire wouldn't "go out". Mmm-hmm... okay there, BBQ genius!

Needless to say, the temperature was still closer to an atomic bomb explosion than a nicely glowing, even heat when they returned - the burgers and dogs seared... and seared... and blackened into unrecognizable blobs as he allowed them to cook for 10 minutes! The saving grace was that once he got his own burgers and sausage he abandoned his station. My mom (who is never allowed to "man" the grill... 'cause it's a guy's job...) took over the second round of cooking and produced beautifully cooked food that left the leftover charred ones far, far behind.

Of course, I got to be in charge of the dessert table! Most of "the Italians" (AKA the stepfamily) don't have much of a sweet tooth, but they do love their fruit, and a couple simple, summery cakes seemed to fit the bill nicely. We served a French vanilla cake (that I will post in a follow up!) as well as laying out another incarnation of the Gourmet Raspberry Buttermilk Cake made using chocolate-ancho batter and topped with brilliant yellow peaches. I also made a version of it with lemon-poppyseed batter and strawberries, which I will share with you today!! We also served one of my "Canadian Pies", which was a big hit too!

Strawberry Laced Lemon - Poppyseed Cake
Serves 10
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp poppyseeds
pinch salt
2 oz cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 egg
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tbsp lemon extract
1/3 cup milk
5 large strawberries, halved
  1. Preheat oven to 375F, grease a 9-inch pan (I like a springform for unmoulding's sake).
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, poppy seeds and salt, set aside.
  3. Beat cream cheese and brown sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add honey, egg, lemon juice and lemon extract, beating well.
  5. Mix flour mixture, alternating with milk, into the creamed blend.
  6. Pour into cake pan.
  7. Arrange strawberry halves on top.
  8. Bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  9. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the sringform and move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 142.9
Total Fat: 3.1 g
Cholesterol: 27.9 mg
Sodium: 27.3 mg
Total Carbs: 26.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 2.9 g

Chocolate - Ancho Peach Cake
Serves 10
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 oz cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp ancho chili paste
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large, ripe peach, peeled and sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9-inch pan (I like a springform for unmoulding's sake).
  2. Combine flaxseed and hot water in a small bowl, let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
  4. Beat cream cheese and brown sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add honey, ancho paste, vanilla and flaxseed mixture, beating well.
  6. Mix flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk into the creamed blend.
  7. Pour into cake pan and arrange peach slices on top.
  8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
  9. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the sringform and move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 145.7
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 6.7 mg
Sodium: 50.4 mg
Total Carbs: 29.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 2.7 g


  1. Those look amazing! Nice combos of flavors.

    The grilling experience? Oh my gosh, how can someone turn out burnt food and call it great? Good thing someone took over for him on the second round, hehe.

  2. Love the lemon poppyseed cake... and the nutrition facts look pretty good, too! I love anything with lemon... bookmarking this recipe!

  3. That choco-ancho cake sounds amazing!


Thanks for the feedback!