I’ve had Shirley O. Corriher’s Bakewise sitting on my desk for a few months now, buried under an ever mounting stack of food magazines, nutrition journals, and various other crap that piles up beside my laptop. But finally, a couple of weekends ago, I had some time to sit down and crack the book open.
Corriher is a biochemist who writes about the chemistry of baking and cooking. She not only gives you recipes that work, but she explains why they work and why her modifications on the standard recipes work better.
The first recipe she discusses in the book is pound cake. I’d never really thought much about pound cake; I don’t think most people do. And to be blunt, it’s not a very exciting cake. Solid, but not flashy. When most of the cakes I see out there in cookbooks and food blogs today are stacked layers upon layers with the most decadent fillings and elaborate and whimsical frostings and toppings, pound cake seems a little sad and lonely.
Never having baked a pound cake before, I wanted to give it a try. I wanted to understand this most basic of cakes. I wasn’t prepared for how knockyouoffyourfeet good this cake would be. I was forced to utilize every ounce of willpower I had to keep myself from eating all of the batter before it even made it to the oven. Once it was baked, and cooled, this cake was heavenly. The crumb was dense but not heavy; the flavors clean and pure; and the crust developed golden, slightly crunchy, and almost like a streusel topping (this was the best part of the cake).
The potato starch, the baking stone, the whipped cream, I won’t get into all the details of why this recipe works so well (she does that in her book); just know that it does. Corriher also gives recipes for an optional glaze and icing for the cake, neither of which are necessary; this cake is phenomenal as is.
Luckily I had dinner with some friends that night, so I had help consuming this cake. Otherwise I absolutely would have eaten the whole thing by myself in an obscenely short amount of time.
Shirley’s Even Greater American Pound Cake
from Bakewise by Shirley O. Corriher
- Butter and flour for greasing your pan or non-stick cooking spray with flour
- 6 oz unsalted butter cut into 2 tbsp pieces
- 3.4 oz shortening
- 21 oz sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2.4 oz canola oil
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 large eggs
- 11.7 oz all-purpose flour
- 1.6 oz potato starch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 c buttermilk
- 1/2 c heavy cream
Place a baking stone on your oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat to 350ºF. Grease a 12 cup bundt pan thoroughly with butter, dust with flour, and shake out the excess (or grease with cooking spray).
Using a hand mixer and a large bowl (or a stand mixer), beat the butter to soften on medium speed. Add the shortening and beat another 3 minutes or until light and pale in color. Add the sugar and continue to beat until very light, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. If the bowl is not cold, place in the freezer for a few minutes and then continue beating.
While continuing to mix, add in the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat in the oil slowly until incorporated. Turn the speed down to the lowest setting and add in the egg yolks and then the whole eggs one at a time. Do not beat excessively between each egg addition.
In a separate, medium bowl mix the flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt with a fork for 30 seconds until very well blended.
Alternate adding 1/3 of the flour mixture with the buttermilk, mixing on the lowest speed, until all are incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once.
Place a bowl, beaters, and heavy cream in the freezer for 5 minutes. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Stir 1//3 of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten. Then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream using a sweeping motion from the top to bottom of the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. From a height of ~4 inches, drop the pan onto the counter to knock out any bubbles. Then smooth the batter.
Place the pan on your baking stone in the oven and bake for about 1 hour or until the cake springs back and a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the cake from the edges of the pan by jarring it against the counter a couple of times. Invert the cake on the cooling rack to remove from the pan. Let the cake cool completely and then devour. This cake gets even better over the next day or two.