Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Almond Pound Cake

Sorry it has been a while since my last post.  We had a trip to Italy (amazing), plus a series of house guests  and my birthday (fun!) that made it hard for me both cook and also document the cooking!

But I was able to make one of my favorite desserts last week - Almond Pound Cake.  This cake dense and moist and gets better with each passing day - although it usually doesn't last very long!
BEFORE
In case you didn't know the origin - a pound cake was originally called so because it was made with a pound each of flour, sugar, eggs & butter.  My version doesn't have quite that proportion of ingredients, but you get the idea.

Some important tips 
  • Using a nice sturdy bundt pan (I favor this one from Williams Sonoma) is a must.  I also use melted butter and a pastry brush to really get the little nooks of the pan greased well before flouring.
  • Cake flour is not a suggestion, but rather a MUST in order to get the best cake possible.
  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature.
  • Do not use "butter" flavored shortening.
I usually serve this cake with "Drunken strawberries".  Slice the strawberries and add a tablespoon of liqueur (I use Grand Marnier, but any non-milk based liqueur will do)  and a few tablespoons of granulated (regular) sugar. Mix everything together, cover and leave in the fridge at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.  The mixture will come together and create a delicious strawberry sauce to go on top of a slice of cake when serving. And a little fresh whipped cream doesn't hurt either!
AFTER
Ingredients:
FOR CAKE:
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup butter - room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla beans (optional)
  • 3 cups CAKE FLOUR
FOR ICING:
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
Preparation:
PREP
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Lightly great and flour a 10 inch bundt pan
MAKE BATTER
  1. Using an electric stand mixer with a whisk attachment:
  2. Cream shortening and butter until combined.
  3. Add sugar and mix on high until light fluffy. This will take a while - be sure to scrap the sides of the bowl every few minutes.
  4. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition, scraping the bowl after each addition.
  5. Beat in almond extract and scrape sides of the bowl.
  6. Combine flour and baking powder (& vanilla beans if you have them) in a medium bowl.
  7. Alternatively beat in flour mixture and milk in batched starting and ending with flour. (this should be about 3 batches of milk).
  8. Scrape the sides of the bowl & mix once more until the batter is uniform.
COMPLETE CAKE
  1. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  2. bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  3. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
MAKE ICING
  1. In a small bowl using a hand whisk combine powdered sugar and almond extract.
  2. Add water in 1 teaspoon batches until icing is of the desired thickness.
  3. Pour over cake and let icing firm up before serving.

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