Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chocolate pound cake

There are some things in life that are much better with additions, upgrades, and ornamentation.  Take toast for example -- who wants plain toast?  It's light years better with Nutella, jam of some variety, or even dipped in a sunny side up egg.  Even when I'm ailing in bed with some unfortunate stomach flu, I still want a smidgen of butter on my bread.  Toast is just the beginning.  I could list a hundred things that are better with the bling, but this cake is not one of those things, my friends.

Surprised you, huh?  Good.  I like to keep you on your toes now and again.

This chocolate pound cake (made in a 10-inch Bundt pan) is so luxurious and yet so pure that it feels like a sin to douse it in chocolate sauce.  (Though, if you are a chocoholic, by all means ignore me and add what you like.  After all, you're not serving me, are you? :)  But, you should know that I will accept any and all invitations to devour this cake.)   The recipe came to me in a cookbook that was a birthday gift from a friend (Natalie of aforementioned strawberry cake fame).  Permit me a moment to brag about her wonderful packaging -- she included the cookbook and a trial size of all of the ingredients to make this exact cake in an adorable green tote bag.  No need for wrapping when the bag is bursting with adorable mini baking groceries.  It was years ago, and I never did take a picture of it, but trust me when I say that it was so inviting that I basically turned out the bag's contents onto the counter right then and there to start baking.

This cake was perfect for a hockey night.  After all, I have a thing for alliteration: Pens and pancakes, Pens and pot pie, and now Pens and pound cake.  The cake will feed many mouths and isn't at all finicky, so it can be eaten crowded around a TV, gasping and wondering and how on earth any human can move (and bend) like that.  There are few cakes that turn out this kind of result without excessive toiling in the kitchen.  Chalk this victory up to Ms. Paula Deen and her ability to turn a few simple ingredients (butter -- her favorite, and mine too) into a fantastic party-ready centerpiece of a dessert.  It's moist and rich with a chocolate crust surrounding a fluffy sweet interior.  The only ingredient that you may not have on hand all the time is the buttermilk, but make your own by adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk and allow it to sit 10 minutes before using.  Be aware that the baking time is a bit lengthy, so don't pull a Katy and start this little number an hour before lights out.

The Bag Lady's Favorite Chocolate Pound Cake
(from The Lady & Sons Just Desserts)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + extra for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F.  Coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture, all of the buttermilk, and the second half of the flour mixture, mixing until each addition is combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla and mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 1 3/4 hours, or until cake is done (a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean).  Remove from oven and allow cake to cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert and turn out cake onto rack and cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar and, if you must, serve with a scoop of ice cream for a hockey game intermission treat that hits the spot!  This cake freezes well and can easily be sliced and served for unexpected guests at a moment's notice.

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