Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vanilla Pound Cake -- Cake Love Style

Tomorrow is my birthday. :) I turn 30 which seems like it should be a big deal, but I just don't care that much. Normally for my birthday I make carrot cake -- pretty much my favorite cake in the world -- and I will likely make carrot cake later this weekend, but today I made the vanilla pound cake from my Cake Love book by Warren Brown. What ended up happening is that I bought a new cake pan, but the shape of the pan (all will be revealed -- maybe too much for some of you -- later this weekend) needed a sturdy cake recipe so I went with pound cake instead of my favorite carrot cake.

The recipe is very good. Sweet without being overly sweet and with a very pronounced vanilla flavor, which isn't all that surprising considering that there is a vanilla bean, vanilla powder and vanilla extract in the cake. There is also a surprising amount of liquor in the recipe -- brandy, rum, amaretto and whiskey -- but you can't really taste the alcohol in the finished product, although I'm sure leaving it out would change the overall flavor. This is a good pound cake that doesn't dry out like so many of them, but I don't think it's quite as good as the Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe that I got from JB -- now that is a great recipe.

For frosting I made the Swiss Buttercream that I made for the last cake I made, and that I originally found on Smitten Kitchen. I didn't have problems with the frosting the first time, but there were definitely issues this time. I suspect that I didn't whip the egg whites long enough before adding the butter, either that or the egg white mixture was still too warm when I started adding the butter -- either way it never quite set up right and was pretty runny. I ended up salvaging it by throwing a package of cream cheese in there. It helped give the frosting more body (although it was still pretty runny) and as an added benefit gave it a subtle cream cheese frosting flavor which is always a good thing.

I'm obviously just getting started with the whole piping thing, and runny frosting didn't help matter at all. Practice makes perfect, or at least better, so I will likely keep trying. I will say that it's much easier to get a totally cool looking cake using fondant than it is buttercream. As far as I'm concerned piping is an art form and I'm still stuck in kindergarten...

Adapted from Cake Love by Warran Brown (ingredients same, but I skip a lot of the commentary and take shortcuts with the methods -- if you have trouble with the recipe, blame me, not him.) :)

13.5 oz (2 1/2 cups + 3 tbsps) all purpose flour
1 tbsp potato starch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

8 oz sour cream (1 cup)
2 tbsps heavy cream
1/4 cup brandy
1 tbsp amaretto
1 tbsp rum
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsps whiskey

2 sticks butter at room temp
3 cups extra fine granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350

Cream together the butter and sugar on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes. While that is creaming scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the butter/sugar mix. Add the eggs, one at a time, continuing to beat on low speed, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl, and the liquid ingredients in a third bowl. Once all the eggs are mixed in, add the some of the flour, then some of the liquid ingredients, alternating until everything is fully mixed -- this should only take about 60 seconds.

Put in the greased pan of your choice and bake -- a bundt pan will take 50 to 55 minutes. Cupcakes or something smaller will take around 25 to 30 minutes.


burkie said...

looks like you got some good practice in! you know i'm cringing to see a perfectly good pound cake...embellished...with frosting, but i understand :)

Mira said...

haha i'm fascinated to see what this new cake pan is for!

but HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! (as lame as it is to wish you happy birthday on your blog -- but i realize you're probably not going to be at work tomorrow...)

giz said...

You did some interesting things to enhance perfection - yowzer - I'm really fascinated by the way you changed up the icing toppings.

biscuitpusher said...

all the "interesting" things I did with the buttercream were purely accidental. I truly suck at buttercream... :( guess I just have to practice some more...