RECIPE: Dessert panzanella salad with stone fruit and toasted (leftover!) pound cake

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With some extra pound cake lying around from the strawberry shortcake Sundae Sunday last week, I decided to repurpose the leftovers into “croutons” for a sweet take on one of my favorite dishes: panzanella salad.

Toasted pound cake, mixed with stone fruit and blueberries and topped with ricotta, honey and fresh basil might be the fastest dessert hack I’ve come up with yet. And to be fair, I’m not the one who first conceived the pound-cake-as-croutons concept: Food and Wine calls for them in this sundae recipe, and Better Homes and Gardens tosses up a traditional fruit salad with them; but that doesn’t mean it’s still not genius.  

I’m not one to often host BBQs, BUT if I were having people over for a Labor Day party this weekend, I’d undoubtedly be serving this.

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Dessert panzanella salad with stone fruit and toasted (leftover!) pound cake

By: Kathleen Hayes; pound cake adapted from Alice Medrich via California Olive Ranch; yield = 1 loaf cake

MISE IT

Rhubarb swirl pound cake

Wet ingredients

  • 100g extra virgin olive oil

  • 100g (organic) sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry ingredients

  • 200g all purpose flour, sifted with the baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted with the flour

Inclusion (optional but highly encouraged)

Fresh stone fruit

  • 5 pieces of stone fruit, cut into wedges - I used a mix of Dapple Dandy pluots and O’Henry yellow peaches

Ricotta cheese

  • 3 - 4 generous spoonfuls of ricotta cheese

Garnish

  • Several leaves of fresh basil

  • Honey, for drizzling

  • Grated pistachios

Special equipment

  • Stand mixer (hello, KitchenAid!)

  • Loaf pan

MAKE IT

Pound cake

  • Preheat oven to 338 degrees F or nearest interval.  You may want to lower temperature slightly and/or keep a close eye during the bake if you know you have a convection oven.

  • Line your loaf pan with parchment paper and give it a quick spray of cooking spray.

  • Combine wet ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed for several minutes.

  • While that’s mixing, sift your flour and baking powder. I do this onto a piece of parchment paper, which I find easier to use to dump into the mixing bowl later.

  • Measure out your milk and set aside.

  • Add eggs one a time on low speed and mix until incorporated.

  • Alternating between ⅓ of the flour and ½ of the milk, add ⅓ flour-½ milk-⅓ flour-½ milk-⅓ flour in stages, moving to the next step once the previous ingredient is (mostly) mixed in.

  • Pour into your parchment-lined loaf pan.

  • Top the cake batter with your jam and use a spoon to gently swirl it around the top.

  • Bake for 60 - 65 minutes; a toothpick will come out clean and the top of the cake will bounce back when you press on it.

  • Let cool in pan for ~3 minutes and then finish cooling entirely on a cooling rack.

Stone fruit

  • Cut each piece of fruit in half, and then cut each half into 6-8 wedges.

ASSEMBLE IT

  • Slice pound cake into 1” - 1 ½” cubes.

  • In a large skillet on medium heat, lightly toast all sides of the cubes for a few minutes until they’re golden brown; if you turn up the heat, you can get more of a crust / color on the outside.

  • Arrange the sliced stone fruit and pound cake cubes on a platter.

  • Add several dollops of ricotta cheese (I LOVE Bellwether Farms), sprinkle chiffonade basil, drizzle with honey, and grate some pistachios on top. #saltbae some flaky sea salt to finish if you’re feeling extra basic.

TWEAK IT

  • Add some blueberries into the fruit mix, or use a different assortment of stone fruit.

  • Whip the ricotta and the honey together.  This was my original intention but opted for the most efficient route.

  • Use whipped mascarpone cream instead of ricotta so it swings slightly less savory.

  • Choose how much (or little) you toast your pound cake.

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