Saturday, January 15, 2011
Brown Sugar Pound Cake . . . with Sauteed Apples and Cinnamon Whipped Cream . . . (See How My Mind Works?)
Some fisherman live by a little motto associated with an acronym that you may have heard. They call it "CPR" and it stands for "catch, photograph, and release." If you're a food blogger who focuses on baked goods and desserts you probably already know full well that some of the items you'll make will be so densely packed with temptation that you'll be forced to CPR them--that is, you'll plate up just one serving, photograph it, and then, bravely, freeze or banish most of the remainder.
This brown sugar pound cake is just such a temptress. I suspected last night that I'd need to place this velvety pound cake in the deep freeze to stave off personal over-indulgence. But this morning I realized the freezer was an absolute certainty when my husband, on his way out the door, glanced back at me and said, "Don't let me eat any of that really good cake today, okay?"
Man, he's stoic. I have to admire that guy. He's lately been working particularly hard on losing weight, and I don't want to sabotage his efforts. I, too, am intimately familiar with the weight struggle, so, my overriding thought right now is: Thank God for plastic wrap, Zip-Loc freezer bags, and refrigeration. Out of sight, out of mind is good, and sometimes out of house, out of mind is even better.
About this recipe . . .
This pound cake recipe is adapted from chefs Todd English and Paige Retus's book, The Olives Dessert Table. Elegant but unpretentious, the small volume is jam packed with creatively plated desserts, and the self-proclaimed "familiar made finer" recipes are presented in a way that seems specifically designed to neither intimidate nor discourage home cooks. In my ever-growing collection of cookbooks, it's definitely one of my faves.
What did I change in the pound cake's original recipe? Along with rewording the instructions, instead of using all white sugar, I subbed in about three quarters light brown sugar, and for the remainder I used white cane sugar (the use of light brown sugar was suggested in the book as a possible variation). I also, on a whim, threw in one tablespoon of real maple syrup to add depth of character to the flavor. (The recipe also suggests adding in nuts or dried fruit, but I wasn't at all crazy about that idea so I left those out.)
Noticing that the recipe didn't call for any chemical leavener at all concerned me a bit, so I decided to sift in 1/2 tsp. of baking powder with the flour and salt. I don't honestly know exactly how the pound cake would have turned out had I not included baking powder . . . probably would have just been more dense? I suppose. Before deciding to do that, though, I skimmed through about six other basic pound cake recipes in six different cookbooks to get a better feel for the general leavening situation. Those recipes were all fairly varied, but none of them omitted either baking powder or baking soda altogether.
The addition of apples sauteed in browned butter, light brown sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and a squeeze of fresh orange juice was my own idea, thrown together, along with that dollop of sweetened cinnamon-kissed whipped cream. See how my mind works? I know. I guess I'm just incorrigible.
Brown Sugar Pound Cake . . . with Sauteed Apples and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
(For a printable version of these recipes, click here!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" metal loaf pan, and one mini loaf pan or something of comparable size. (Please note that when I made this recipe, it produced a little too much batter for a 9" loaf pan, so I put about one cup of the batter into a mini loaf pan in order to avoid catastrophe. I suggest you have a mini pan prepared as well in case this happens to you too! The mini loaf will bake much faster than the big loaf, so don't forget about it when they're both in the oven.)
Ingredients for the pound cake:
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 and 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated white sugar (I used pure cane sugar.)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. real maple syrup (I used Trader Joe's brand--good, but not super expensive.)
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 and 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached, and I sifted .)
3/4 tsp. salt (I used regular table salt this time, not kosher/coarse.)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the large bowl of your mixer, beat the butter for several minutes until it looks light, fluffy, and almost white.
Add in all of the sugar and beat well, for another minute or so.
Pour in the vanilla, and then add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed for at least a couple of minutes after each addition.
Add in the flour mixture all at once, and beat on lowest speed just until combined. Or if you prefer, do this by hand, folding the flour gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s), and bake on the middle rack of your oven for at least one hour (mine took closer to 75 minutes).
Check the loaf after half an hour or so to see how it's browning. I covered the top of mine lightly with foil after it had been in the oven about 40 minutes, to prevent burning. Remove the loaf from the oven when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out completely clean, and when a finger tapped on the top of the loaf doesn't leave an impression. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes. Turn it carefully out of the pan and let it cool fully on the rack before trying to slice it.
Store the cake well covered. It should keep really well for a few days and, like so many pound cakes, it apparently improves with age.
Ingredients for sauteed apples (this makes enough for up to 4 servings):
2 medium size apples, peeled and cored (I used Pink Lady apples; firm and very sweet), and sliced into pieces about 1/4" thick
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
2 to 4 pinches ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (use a nice sweet orange)
To make the sauteed apples:
Heat a medium size saute pan on the stove over medium-low heat for a minute or two. Add in the butter, letting it melt and begin to slightly brown. Add in the apples and stir to coat them in the butter. Let them simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle on the brown sugar and cinnamon, stirring it lightly to coat the apples; simmer a couple more minutes. Add in the orange juice and stir to combine. Continue simmering until the apples begin are tender but not mushy. Keep an eye on the pan and be careful not to let the sugar and butter mixture burn. Turn off the fire and let the mixture cool slightly in the pan while you plate your pound cake and whip the cream.
Ingredients for sweetened cinnamon whipped cream (makes about two cups whipped):
1 cup cold heavy cream
4 tbsp. confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 pinches ground cinnamon
To make sweetened cinnamon whipped cream:
In a chilled bowl, beat the cream on medium high speed until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle in the confectioners' sugar and the cinnamon. Keep beating until the cream forms soft peaks. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.
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