Epic Pound Cake

Never to shy away from a cooking challenge, I made the Even Greater American Pound Cake from the October 21, 2008 New York Times.  No less than 15 ingredients went into the epic pound cake, five of which are fats – butter, shortening, canola oil, buttermilk, whipped cream.  This recipe from “Bakewise” has been perfected within an inch of its life.  I always thought that pound cake was a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, and some eggs.  This recipe also has potato starch, baking powder, and almond and vanilla extract.  Comparatively, Cook’s Illustrated has half the number of ingredients.  My cooking bible also reveals that the trick to making pound cake lies in the gradual introduction of eggs, much like making mayonnaise, to stretch this binding ingredient.  I followed the recipe faithfully, with the exception of the slow egg add in.  I also had to divide the batter into two pans for lack of a 12-cup bundt pan.

The result was a rich and complex flavor that spoke of all five fats, a moist crumb, and a crackly candy-like top.  Impressively tasty, and an interesting experiment in pans.  Baked in the dark bundt Nordicware, the cake was pretty close to perfect, but in the glass Pyrex, due to the loaf shape it required more baking time, becoming a little drier.  It also revealed a disturbing flaw with my oven – the top is significantly cooler than the bottom, making for inconsistency and burnt bottoms.  Even with an oven thermometer, further compensation is needed.  In every epic journey, a lesson is learned.



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