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[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

Though it is curiously absent from their bakery menu, Starbucks has brought back the Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake ($2.25), a seasonal treat that appeared last year just before summer. The slice of pound cake stars a pinkish-red swirl of raspberry and a smear of cream cheese frosting. This time around, the only thing missing is the "cochineal extract", a coloring agent made from crushed up bugs that Starbucks began phasing out last April.

Overall, I'd call the raspberry swirl pound cake a success. The texture is great: cakey, but not too heavy. One side of the slice was a little dried out, likely because it was more exposed in the display case, but overall, it was fairly moist.

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Biting into the cake, you get three flavors, simultaneously: lemon, raspberry, and sour cream, all of which make an appearance in the list of ingredients. There's lemon zest mixed into the cake, along with light sour cream, while the swirl features a straight-forward list of ingredients that actually puts the berries before any other "natural flavors": sugar, raspberries, water, natural flavors, pectin, and locust bean gum.

Having three tangy components in the cake, not to mention the icing, which also has a tinge of tang, makes it no surprise that this is one of Starbucks' less cloying bakery items. I thought it worked great as a breakfast pastry, but because the cake tastes reasonably light, I'd be as willing to snack on it alongside an Arnold Palmer at lunchtime as I would to eat it as an after dinner dessert.

After finding love with Starbucks' cream cheese brownie, I didn't think lightning could possibly strike twice, but hey, credit where it's due: this is one of Starbucks' best baked goods in recent history.

About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax

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