Yesterday Husband and I visited our good friends Dani and Jacob. Blizzard aftermath made me reluctant to head to the grocery store on Saturday, so dessert, which was my task, had to use ingredients I had on hand. Looking through the list of recipes, I settled on something I thought would be simple, tasty, and easy to transport: vanilla pound cake.
I don’t think I’ve ever made pound cake before. For me, cake is mostly a birthday thing, and that means frosting and fanciness. However, after trying this, simple and delicious seem to be good enough reasons for cake.
Something that I think separates the good bakers from the great is attention to detail. For example, I’ve read over and over again that your eggs and butter are supposed to be at room temperature for cakes. But, near-inevitably, I forget. Well, not this time. And it definitely made a difference.
(I will admit to using the speed version… setting the eggs in hot water for a few minutes. I also slightly microwaved the butter, which is warned against because of unevenness. What I really need to do is read my recipes further ahead of time.)
The batter came together beautifully. This, like all butter cakes, is mixed with the creaming method. Butter and sugar are beaten together, then the other liquid or dry ingredients are added in. With this pound cake, all the flour was mixed in at once, then the eggs, one at a time. Watching the eggs transform the batter was fascinating. After two eggs, I noticed the batter looked a lot like chocolate chip cookie dough–and realized the batter actually was a lot like chocolate chip cookie dough, proportionately, though with more white sugar than brown.
With the last egg, the batter is supposed to become “quite fluffy.” I will add “silky” and “gorgeous” as descriptors.
Then it was on to baking. And here’s where my attention to detail failed.
I baked this in a dark 9×5″ loaf pan. And, seasoned bakers will know, for cakes in dark pans, you’re supposed to lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees to keep the cake from overbaking. I didn’t think of this until the bake time was up and the cake was a perfect golden brown, but still soggy in the middle.
I ended up lowering the oven from 350 to 300 to compensate and baking it about 10 minutes more. It was quite brown, but not too much.
Then came de-panning–which almost resulted in disaster, as a small portion stuck, which got peeled off and put back under the cake–and glazing.
My friend Dani has a recipe for a lovely orange-glazed cake, which I once helped her make for a favorite teacher. Other than that, though, I hadn’t glazed a cake before. It’s quite simple. I’m picky about my frostings (can’t stand them too sweet), but I thought the strongly vanilla-scented glaze was just right with the not-too-sweet cake.
We don’t see Dani and Jacob often enough. It was lovely to have a meal together (Jacob’s favorite stir fry!), and sharing cake reminded me that one of the things I hope to do during this project is to share or give away a lot of what I bake.
Tomorrow, I’m bringing brownies to a family who visited our church, so that’ll be a nice way to continue. Then I’m making rolls for Easter dinner, so there will be a lot of baking in the next week!