Oftentimes, the best desserts require just a touch of something savory to balance out the sweet: sea salt sprinkled on a warm chocolate chip cookie, French fries dipped in a milkshake, chicken and waffles drizzled with maple syrup. That’s the kind of harmony Sara Bradley and her mother, pastry chef Bebe Bradley, of Paducah, Kentucky’s Freight House aimed for with their springtime sweet pea cake, a delicate blend of sugar, vanilla, lemon—and English peas.
“There’s actually not a ton of vegetal flavor to it,” Bradley says. “The pureed peas give the cake a nice sweetness and beautiful color.” Bradley also utilizes both butter (to enhance the texture) and oil (to keep the cake moist). The key, though, is to not mix the batter too much. “Cake is the exact opposite of bread,” she says. “You don’t want it to develop gluten or it will be too dense and won’t rise.”
Another tip Bradley extends to all her cakes: “If you want a crispy crust on a Bundt cake or pound cake, use butter and flour in the pan to keep it from sticking,” she says. “But for this cake you want a more delicate crust, so spray or use light oil. That’ll make it easier to ice.”