Monday, February 16, 2009

Success in baking

Today I made "Shirley's Even Greater American Pound Cake" from the book Bakewise. It was quite specific about the preparation instructions and included a few things I'm not good at doing (in this case, folding whipped cream into a heavier batter).

Despite the complex preparation methods, I forged ahead. Having been indoctrinated with Alton Brown's "measure by weight, not volume" mantra, I weighed the ingredients for the recipe. This produced some trepidation as the volume by weight was quite different than the volumes listed. The recipe called for 2 2/3 cups flour or 332 grams of flour. By weight, it was only about 1 3/4 cups for me.

The description before the cake warns that this recipe doesn't have enough flour to use a normal loaf pan, but that it works just fine in a tube pan. Now, I was trusting a TV show chef that, no really, weight is what matters. Well, it turned out to be true; measuring by weight worked out just fine.

This cake is very tasty and wonderfully moist, but it's not as heavy as I normally think of a pound cake as being. Even early on, the way Shirley has you creaming the fats and mixing in the eggs, the batter was very light. Folding in the whipped cream made it even lighter. It has a nice crispy exterior and a moist, even texture without tasty greasy or heavy. Amazing!

I did skip a few steps in the recipe, but only because my freezer is not as big as Shirley's must be. At a few stages in the recipe, she wants you to put the mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes. She must have a 4-6 body freezer because there is no way my mixing bowl would fit in the freezer with all the other stuff that's in there. I also had to move the batter to a separate bowl so I could use my mixer to whip the cream. But, it turned out just fine, so I'm guessing my variations on those points didn't make too much of a difference.

So, this was a very tasty experiment. Willie and I agree that it's hardly fair to call it a pound cake when its texture is so much lighter than a pound cake. The flavor is very good and we think a tart fruit drizzle would be excellent on it, though it's plenty sweet as-is. Best of all, even with the strange preparation directions, this cake didn't take much longer than a normal cake to prepare.

I'm happy and I look forward to the next recipe I try from this book.

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