I decided to start from the basics.
Is there a better way to start a cake blog than with a rich buttery classic – the pound cake! Wikipedia and other sources say that traditionally a pound cake means a cake baked with equal proportions of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. Nobody follows tradition anymore. The pound cake has evolved; although most recipes still employ the 1:1 ratio for the basic ingredients, often there is an additional form of fat or diary such as cream cheese, buttermilk, milk or the use of cake flour for that fine texture.
How could I know which one tastes better? On my quest for that buttery scrumptiousness, that rich, dense, moist deliciousness, with sweet, brown aromatic crust, I had to try them all, it was the only way!
I tried a few recipes and some did not turn out very well. I will not get into details of disasters. However I will mention some learning.
Follow recipe strictly – not just the ingredients and measurements but also the equipment, baking temperatures and cooking time.
In my opinion, till one gets comfortable enough with baking cakes, it is not really wise to tamper with above mentioned factors.
Moving on from my wisdom, this Vanilla Pound Cake is definitely worth a mention. The recipe by Saveur which I found on Apt 2B Baking uses touch milk for a moist and soft, melts-in-your-mouth cake. I halved the recipe with Microsoft excel proficiency because we are just two people and baked it for 35 minutes.
I also used a bundt pan instead of a tube pan. Aren’t they essentially the same, producing holes in the middle of a cake! A quarter disappeared as soon as it cooled enough to remove from the pan. However, to my surprise, like Indian food, this cake tasted better the next day which made my morning coffee very happy.
This Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake recipe from Once Upon A Chef had been on my to-bake list, not specifically in relation to this pound cake mania. It simply sounded so easy and fresh. This is a pretty big cake so once again I halved the recipe and this time baked in mini silicone loaf pans for 40mins.
It yielded 3 mini loaves which is still more than 2 people can eat. I put one of the loaves in the freezer to later gift it to unsuspecting trial subjects and was happy to note that they freeze very well.
The original recipe calls for lemon syrup, I did not really feel the need for it. But if you like your lemon cake extra lemony, go for it! I did add the lemon glaze and topped the cake with some candied lemon peel. This was my first ever attempt at candying anything and I took it a bit too far and hence the dark golden appearance from caramelization! Still looked pretty damn good and had to be Instagrammed!
Cheese makes everything better! Oh and chocolate too. And ofcourse alcohol. How does one not digress in free style blog writing? It is my blog, I can ramble on, can’t I? No, says Steve. He puts up with enough rambling as it is. Cream Cheese Pound Cake it is then.
I have to say this was my absolute favorite of all the pounds I tried (and gained!). By now, you know I reduce all the recipes so I made this one in my brand new mini tube pan! The texture and flavor came closest to what I picture a pound cake to be.
Berry season is almost here! Yayy! So I served this cake with blueberry compote. I thought it was very savvy of me to put the compote in the centre-hole of the cake. However the colour does seep in, so if you are serving it to guests and don’t want the cake to be stained and a teeny bit soggy on the inner edges, keep them separate.
What I learnt –
- I have gotten into the habit of planning baking ahead and putting butter and eggs out on the counter the previous night so I don’t have to fret over cold ingredients.
- I don’t own an oven thermometer, but now I know that the oven I use gets hot quickly and is probably a few degrees over indicated, so I check before the total baking time indicated in the recipes and sometimes readjust the temperature accordingly.
- I always, always butter and flour my pans before starting out to bake. Nothing is worse than a perfectly good cake that got stuck in the pan and broke while you forcefully tried to pry it out! It will make you want to cry.
Coming Up – A recipe for Cardamom Pound Cake with Mango Cream