Thursday, May 5, 2011

Poundcake


I absolutely love Sara Lee poundcake. My mom used to buy it when we were little- I was always excited when she would grab one out of the freezer section- and we'd eat it before it had a chance to thaw. The cardboard lid always ripped the top half of the poundcake off, so it was never exceptionally beautiful- but it was totally delicious.

I wanted to come up with a fuss-free dessert for Mother's Day. I thought about about making a Mississippi Mud Pie, or maybe even something really simple and delicious like rice pudding, then I got this idea of a poundcake stuck in my head and haven't been able to shake it. So that's the top contender so far- a poundcake with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream.

I've never made a poundcake before, why bother if Sara Lee makes such a perfect specimen? But something about buying a cake on Mother's Day instead of making one from scratch seemed wrong. These women birthed us- the least I can do is bake a cake.

I've searched through my favorite cookbooks, compared those recipes to highly-rated recipes on the internet, and finally decided to go with my gut and follow a recipe that doesn't require ungodly amounts of sugar, butter & egg yolks (Sorry, Paula Deen..).

I admit.. I'm a bit of a worrywart and a perfectionist. I hate trying out new recipes when company is coming over. What if it fails? What if it tastes horrible? What if the recipe needs just a liiiiiiittle tweaking? So, in true SuMi-fashion, I'm baking this today to do a test-run.  

Classic Poundcake
from Williams-Sonoma's Baking Book.
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond or lemon extract
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease & flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan (preferably glass, but metal will work too).
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the sugar, butter, and extracts together until light & fluffy (medium to medium-high speed).
  4. Add the eggs to the creamed butter & sugar mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides periodically. 
  5. Sprinkle half the flour mixture over the creamed mixture- stir until well-combined. Add the sour cream- stir until well-mixed, then add the second half of the flour and stir until combined.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan- smooth the top, and bake for 70 minutes (longer if you're using a metal pan- mine took about 85 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

PS: If you're looking for an awesome, all-things-baked cookbook, pick up The Baking Book by Williams-Sonoma. Every recipe has been a success, and it has everything from simple cookie recipes to really extravagant cakes and yeast breads.

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