It is a shame I didn’t get a shot of a slice of this cake. I could have, should have, but I didn’t. Sorry about that. If I had, you would have seen the glorious tight and dense crumb. In my opinion, it is a tight and dense crumb that makes a pound cake great. That and lots of butter.
This recipe comes by way of a memoir. Normally, I am a little suspect of recipes in memoirs (unless we are talking about a food memoir like Cooking for Mr. Latte or A Homemade Life). My thoughts are along the lines of “who is this person and why does he/she think she can just include a recipe at the end of each chapter?” My friend Cheryl gave me a copy of Cakewalk last summer and it has been sitting on my “to read” pile for far too long. It is the story of a very interesting and troubled family. It is well-written and although food is not the subject, the author does write about tantalizing treats. Many of the end-of-chapter recipes spoke to me but I made this one because I had all the ingredients on hand.
(OK, so you may notice a small bit of the corner cut off. For scientific purposes only!)
Sometimes I just want to bake. If you like to bake, I’m sure you are familiar with this feeling. For me, it isn’t even so much for the end result although ending up with a homemade baked good is nice. Sometimes it is just the act of pulling out the flour and sugar, turning on the mixer, preheating the oven, anticipating the smells that will soon perfume my house… When I just want to bake, I don’t want to fuss. Cookies are too much trouble – all that shaping and switching baking sheets in the oven. This is why I love simple cakes.
I did a little dessert party last night – a reception for a very moving play currently running at the New City Theatre in Seattle. Sick tells of one woman’s struggle with pain and medication and the cracks we can all fall through in the American medical system. You can read more about the play here. Randy and I wanted to support the playwright and actress and we decided to invite some of our friends to attend. We lured them with the promise of a compelling story and with treats afterward.
I made butterscotch pudding tarts and chocolate friands (recipes coming soon). I made the most favorite chocolate chip cookies. But several people pulled me aside to tell me this cake was their favorite. It is comfort food at its most comfortable. And the glaze! Swoon.
Brown Sugar Pound Cake
Adapted from Cakewalk
Makes two 8×4-inch loaves
You can make this cake in one 9 or 10-inch tube pan, but I love the idea of having two cakes out of one recipe. I served one cake the day I made it and wrapped and froze the other one. The cake should be frozen unglazed, so if you do this, be sure to cut the glaze recipe in half.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Butter and flour two 8×4-inch loaf pans, knocking out excess flour. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, until whipped looking. Slowly add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, increasing the speed to medium-high. The mixture should look very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beat well after each one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.
Combine the milk with the vanilla. Add the flour in 3 portions alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Fold the last flour addition in by hand with a rubber spatula. Turn the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 1 to 1½ hours, checking after 55 minutes and every 5 to 10 minutes thereafter, until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out with just moist crumbs attached. If the cake is very brown after 55 minutes but not yet fully baked, cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil. When done, the cake will be springy to the touch and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
Brown Sugar Glaze
Remember, this amount will glaze both cakes. If you are only glazing one, cut the recipe in half.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup whole milk
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 to 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, then add the brown sugar and raise the heat to medium. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Sift 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar over the mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth. If the glaze is thick enough for your liking, you can stop there. If not, sift the additional ½ cup sugar in. Place the cake (still on the wire rack) over a wax paper lined baking sheet. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and allow it to drip down the sides. Allow the glaze to set completely before slicing and serving. Wrapped carefully, this cake will keep for several days at room temperature. If you happen to have some homemade caramel sauce on hand, it is amazing poured over top.