Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pound for Pound, It's the Best Cake Around

Wednesday (Tomorrow) is Pound Cake Day…

So in honor of this most sacred of Foodie Holidays, I made a pound cake this evening. Not just any pound cake… I went back to what the name of the cake suggests, a Pound of this and a Pound of that. Historically, at least until the 1900’s, Pound cake was simply that -- 1 pound of each, Eggs, Flour, Sugar and Butter (Not Shortening), as first mentioned in print back in 1740. I am lucky enough to have a digital kitchen scale, so this is fairly easy for me.

Did everyone have scales back then for cooking?

Probably not, but the basic measurements can easily be performed with a simple fulcrum scale…
Simply place the amount of eggs you decide to use on 1 side and the other ingredients on the other, each in turn until the scale is level.

That was the beauty of pound cake, if you only have 2/3 of a pound of eggs, then by using the eggs as your counter balance, you can then measure 2/3 pounds of the other ingredients… Infinitely scale-able to the ingredients you have on hand.

With the advent of the 1900’s chemical leaveners began showing up in recipes. Baking Powder being the most common, but with additions of buttermilk and/or sour cream, Baking Soda can be found as well. All of which make the cake a little lighter in texture.

Having decided to herald back to the roots of Pound Cake, I really wasn’t sure how I felt about flavoring it with just vanilla extract. So this is where I deviated a little. I had found some Meyers Lemons over the weekend, so I decided to candy Meyer Lemon slices and use the remaining syrup to glaze the finished cake, which also left me with a little zest to add to the batter… It smelled SO good when it was cooking…

Meyer Lemon Pound Cake

1 lb Unsalted Butter
1 lb Granulated Sugar
1 lb Large Eggs (9 eggs plus 1 yolk)
1 lb AP Flour
3/4 tsp Kosher Salt
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1/2 tsp Lemon oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Butter and Flour a Bundt Pan.
Whisk Flour and Salt together in a small bowl.
Beat the room temperature butter until light and fluffy.

With the mixer running on medium, begin adding the sugar 2 TB at a time, beating the mixture until almost white in color and extremely fluffy (the air that is incorporated is important)

Begin adding the eggs, 1 at a time with the mixer on medium, waiting for the batter to break and then reform before adding the next egg.

Once the batter is smooth again, turn the mixer to low and begin adding the flour about 3 TB at a time, waiting until incorporated before the next addition.

Once the flour is well combines, stir in the Lemon Zest, Lemon Oil and Vanilla.

Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan and run a butter knife through the batter to remove any large bubbles.

Bake in the oven for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick or a cake tester inserted, comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before un-molding onto a cooling rack; cool completely.

Plate the pound cake with candied Meyer Lemon Slices and Syrup, dusting with confectioners’ sugar if desired.
Serve with Crème Fraîche:

Meyer Lemon-Cardamom Crème Fraîche

7.5 oz Crème Fraîche (that was the size of the tub)
1/2 tsp Cardamom; Powdered
Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon
1 TB Meyer Lemon Syrup (See below)

Crème Fraîche, Cardamom and Lemon Zest with a spatula.

Fold in Lemon Syrup.

Store in refrigerator till ready to serve Pound Cake
Serve a dollop with each slice

Candied Meyer Lemons and Syrup glaze

6 Meyer Lemons; divided
1 cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Meyer Lemon Juice (This will use 4 of your 6 lemons)

Slice 2 Lemons thinly,
Squeeze enough juice from the remaining 4 lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice. (make sure you have gotten the zest from them first for the cake and the
Crème Fraîche)
Combine lemon slices, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Bring to a boil and let simmer about 7-10 minutes or until the syrup becomes thick and the lemon rinds become transparent.
Remove from heat and let cool.

Place lemon slices on top of Bundt cake, then spoon syrup over cake and allow to soak in. (you can also brush the syrup on with a pastry brush).

Meyer Lemon Bliss!! -- I was gonna wait and cut it at work tomorrow, but I just couldn't. I HAD to have a piece!!! After all, I needed to know if it was going to be any good. I would not want to make anyone sick, right? Cause I am a VERY conscientious individual. That is my story, and I am sticking to it!

The cake was dense and slightly drier than I thought it would be, but the crumb was extra fine. It wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be either. But that could be from the occasional zing from the syrup brushed on it...
The Cardamom-Ginger
Crème Fraîche was a delicious addition that not only assisted in tempering the dryness but added that little extra exotic allure to the flavor.
The best part is the candied lemon slice at the end to clean your palate. Sort of like the little prize in a box of Cracker-Jack.
I DO feel slightly guilty that I cut into it before taking it to work tomorrow... on second thought... No I don't. HA HA HA It was worth it.



Spryte said...

Now THAT is my kinda dessert!!

Bob said...

That looks insanely good. Love the candied lemons, that's a great touch.

I love pound cake, I didn't know today was pound cake day! I would have made one last night, I won't be able to today.