Packing on the Pounds

Friday, April 13, 2012

Here is a recipe for a basic pound cake that serves well as a base for many different desserts or would be a nice simple treat alongside a cup of coffee or tea. I served this cake as a platform for strawberry shortcakes for my Easter brunch. Just off the top of my head though, I imagine this cake would be perfect to incorporate into a trifle or would be great to serve with stewed berries or roasted stone fruit in the summer with a bit of whipped cream, ice cream or cannoli cream (that would be ricotta cheese, sugar and whipped cream)... oh the possibilities. I will say, though, this cake isn't anything amazing - I mean it's pound cake - nothing exotic. It's a good basic recipe but it isn't something that you are going to take a bit of and drop to the floor - just so you know.

Cooking Note: The cooking time in this recipe is that of the original recipe (from Martha Stewart) and not the actual time it took for my pound cake to cook. My pound cake took about one hour and forty minutes to cook. (Though that time is not exact, as I stopped counting the minutes on the clock as it moved into the second hour.) My oven is a bit difficult, (well, it is Italian after all), and I have had a lot of problems baking in it, so I may need to look into having it looked at... which is besides the point. Anyway, I mention this only because I can't say concretely how long this cake takes to cook. If I had to use my better judgement I would say that 50 minute seems a little shy for this much batter in a loaf pan and somewhere around 1 hour sounds more accurate. But really all baking times vary based on your oven and a number of other factors. So, if you try this recipe and your cake is totally raw in the middle after an hour keep baking it until it is fully cooked or run a knife through lengthwise the middle of the cake after the fifty minutes (a pastry school tip) to help the cake finish cooking, as I did. Though it will make your cake not as aesthetically pleasing. So, the actual cooking time: Until it's done. That is the most important thing I learned in pastry school. I would constantly ask how long something should take to cook and the response was always the same: "Til it's done!"

Italian Pound Cake

Makes 1 large loaf

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. I added a hint of almond and citrus to this classic pound cake for a subtle Italian flavor.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes on high speed. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract and orange and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Add the eggs one at time, fully incorporating each egg into the batter before adding in the next egg, on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure the batter is fully mixed together. Add the flour mixture and blend until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out evenly with a spatula. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; then carefully run a knife along the edges of the cake and pan and lift up the parchment to remove the loaf cake. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. This cake keeps well wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.


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