There are some baking books that gather dust on your shelves, and then there are others with missing covers, pages stuck together, and unraveling spines. The number of chocolate finger prints in the margins can tell you just how important a recipe is, and if there is one book in my collection that is in rough shape, it is The Cake Bible.
Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe for “Perfect Pound Cake” produces exactly that; a buttery, dense crumb that slices like a dream and stays moist for days. The addition of cardamom, a warm and smooth spice, elevates the melting texture and richness of the cake.
If you do not own a 6 cup bundt pan, an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan will work equally as well. Increase the baking time to 55-65 minutes for a loaf, and use a foil tent after 30 minutes to prevent overbrowning.
Cardamom Pound Cake
adapted from “Perfect Pound Cake”, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bilble
Stand mixer, 6 cup mini bundt pan – or a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan
3 tablespoons milk (not skim), room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake and pastry flour (150g)
3/4 cup white granulated sugar (150g)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom*
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (6.5 oz)
*if you decide to make the chocolate glaze, increase the cardamom to 1 teaspoon
Tips for Success:
- Ensure that the eggs, milk, and butter are all at room temperature so that they emulsify properly. For the purposes of baking, room temperature butter measures between 65° and 68° F. If you do not have a digital candy thermometer, use your finger to test the temperature by pushing on a cube of butter. When the butter is ready, it will be pliable but still cool to the touch and your finger will leave a smooth indent with no cracks. If the butter is too warm it will feel very soft and offer no resistance to pressure, and it must be returned to the fridge.
- Eggs can be quickly brought to temperature by submerging them in warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- When using the reverse creaming method, the speed and length of the beating process is crucial. You want to whip the batter sufficiently in order to incorporate air and create structure, but overbeating can result in a dense and dry cake. Large holes throughout the crumb are also a sure sign of overbeating. Speed 3 on my Kitchen Aid mixer is ideal, but consider setting a less powerful machine to medium speed.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Cut the butter into cubes and allow it to come to temperature (65°-68° F) while you prepare the other ingredients. Thoroughly grease and flour a 6 cup mini bundt pan. If you are using a loaf pan, grease it and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cardamom into the bowl of the stand mixer. Whisk to combine the ingredients, then attach the paddle beater.
In a small bowl combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract or seeds. Whisk lightly with a fork to separate the eggs and combine the ingredients.
When the butter is the correct consistency, place it in the bowl with the dry ingredients and add half of the egg mixture. Stir on the lowest speed just until the dry ingredients are moistened, including the flour at the very bottom of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium (speed 3 on a Kitchen Aid) and beat for 1 minute to aerate the batter and develop structure. Stop the mixer and add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating at medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. At each pause, scrape the bowl to ensure that all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Use a large spoon to dollop the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (55-65 for a loaf), until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The top of the cake should be peaked and cracked, and only begin to pull away from the sides of the pan upon removal from the oven.
The cake will keep well for 4-5 days, wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature. Pound cake is delicious when glazed, iced, or served with fresh berries and whipped cream.
Quick Chocolate Glaze
adapted from The Cake Bible
3 oz dark chocolate, slivered and finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Set the cream over medium heat just until it begins to simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and cover the bowl with a plate or lid and wait 5 minutes. Stir the mixture gently until it is completely smooth. Use immediately.