Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Almond pound cake

Would you believe me if I told you that sometimes even I haven't the slightest idea what I'm going to bake when I head into the kitchen?

True story, folks.

The other day, I yelled sweetly called to Matt, "Could you put two sticks of butter out on the counter to soften, please?"

Hours later, when I remembered there was softened butter waiting to party with sugar and some yet-to-be-determined friends, I searched deep within my soul to figure out what I wanted.

Sweet.  Chewy.  Almonds.  Must have almonds.

And that blessed amaretto-almond smell.  I love it so dearly.

Cookies or cake or pie?  I wanted minimal prep, so cake was an easy decision.  A little research here and there, some scribbling, erasing, and rewriting, and the most grown-up cake I've ever made was born.  Nary a chocolate chip in sight, and I was a-okay with it.

Light as air almond pound cake, to be exact!

Gorgeous flecks of sliced almonds amidst the lightest pound cake I'll surely ever encounter.  It's perfect as dessert or even breakfast.  My kind of cake.

Really, it shouldn't be called a pound cake.  Maybe "won't-gain-even-a-pound-cake" :)

Now, if you are like me and thought, "Hey, that cake's really light!  That means I can add toppings to it," then I have a few things to say to you.

First, we should be friends if we aren't already.  Toppings are the bomb!

Second, need some ideas?  Fresh whipped cream, butter, jams and preserves, or even ice cream.  Yeah... ice cream would be fantasmic!

Finally, please know that I was blissfully happy and content with one, two, then three slices of almond pound cake accompanied by a glass of cold milk.  So, toppings aren't necessary.

You could say I'm a cake purist.  You could also say that I was a terrible Girl Scout and was never prepared for anything.

Please be nice, make pound cake, and invite me so we can be friends.  Friends teach other friends how to be better prepared, right?

Light-as-air Almond Pound Cake
(adapted, slightly, from Smitten Kitchen)
-makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 heaping cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.  Sift the flour onto waxed paper and then spoon it gently back into the sifter, adding the baking powder and a good pinch of salt. Sift the mixture twice more, each time spooning it lightly into the sifter.  (Slightly tedious, yes, but worth it later!)

Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and then gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar, two tablespoons at a time.  Transfer to a bowl.

Fit the electric mixer with a paddle attachment and cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the remaining six tablespoons of sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks until light and lemon-colored and then add the extracts.

Gradually fold the sifted flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture. Fold in the beaten egg whites just until the batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick pierced in the center comes up clean. Cool in pan ten minutes on a rack, then cool the rest of the way out of the pan.

No comments:

Post a Comment