Although a basil cake sounds unusual, think of the basil as you would mint rather than as an herb used only in savory cooking. Mash cherries, berries, or any juicy sweet fruit and serve them over the cake with chocolate ice cream or whipped cream for an unbelievably luscious dessert. This cake actually gets better the next day. Cover it well, but do not refrigerate it unless you need to store it for more than a day or two.
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 1/2 cup mixed berries (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a spring-form pan. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until creamy. Add eggs, basil, lemon zest and vanilla. Beat until blended. Add flour mixture, a third at a time, alternating with buttermilk and beating on low speed until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and cool completely. Place on a serving plate and top with berries, if desired.
Serves 8 to 12.