Sunday, May 18, 2014

Vanilla pound cake

It's no secret that we Asians like eating pastries for breakfast (see here, here, here and here). In fact, when I was growing up, it was perfectly acceptable for my dad and I to eat pound cake, milk, and a banana for breakfast. I thought nothing of it, but now I shudder at the thought of pound cake for breakfast.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to attend our city's Restaurant Week last month and try out a new (to us) restaurant downtown. We had the ability to choose our appetizer, entree and dessert from a prix fixe menu. I saw that "foie gras pound cake" was on there, so I ordered that.

Don't be confused - there was no duck liver in this pound cake. It was dense and smooth like the consistency of fois gras, but it was 100% pound cake. Oh my heavens - this cake melted in my mouth and made me want more. I couldn't stop thinking about pound cake all week and finally went on the internet to search for a recipe to try.

I baked the recipe as written, but it came out a bit browner and drier than I had hoped. I even baked it for 7.5 minutes less than instructed, so be sure to check your loaf often so it doesn't get too dry. I enjoyed the texture, as it was exactly as a pound cake should be, but it wasn't anything like the foie gras version we had during Restaurant Week. I'll keep searching for a similar recipe, but in the meantime, this one will do. I can always top it with fruit, ice cream and syrup so the pound cake isn't too dry.

Vanilla pound cake

  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon if you use salted butter)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 TBSP milk of choice
  • 1 and 3/4 cups + 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, salt, sugar, baking powder, vanilla and almond extract on medium speed until well combined.

Add the eggs in one at a time, and mix well after each egg to make sure it is fully incorporated. After all the eggs have been added, turn the mixer to high and beat for 3 minutes.

Turn the mixer down to low and the milk. Then slowly add the flour and mix until just incorporated - do not over mix.

Transfer the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake in your preheated oven for 55 minutes.

While the loaf is baking, you can prepare a sugar topping that will enhance the pound cake. Simply mix 2 TBSP of sugar, 1 teaspoon of water and 1 teaspoon of vanilla together. It will look like syrup.

Once the loaf has finished baking, pour the syrup onto the pound cake and return to the oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

The top center of the pound cake may come out a bit soggy, but that is OK. It will solidify as it cools.

Store the pound cake in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days and can be served with fruit, syrup, honey, ice cream or whatever your heart desires. It can also be frozen and thawed for later.

Yield: One 9x5 loaf

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

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