Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Classic Pound Cake

A classic dense, yet soft, pound cake is one I've always loved. I remember my mother would bake it for us, and it would be fresh and warm when we got home from school. And then the bakery across the street baked an excellent pound cake, which she would buy for us instead. Dédé Wilson, the author of this recipe, says that this freezes well too. Double wrap it in plastic wrap, put it in a zip lock, squeeze the air out, and freeze it. I have some in my freezer, and will pull a slice out tomorrow and spread some chocolate-hazelnut spread on it for breakfast. Decadent and delicious!

When it comes to baking I'm a stickler about measurements, temperatures, and also equipment. Read the entire recipe first, then read it again to make sure that you didn't miss anything out, and then follow the recipe when you bake it. There is nothing worse than starting the mixing process when you realize that you missed a step or an ingredient is too cold and it's ruining your batter. 

One of the most important steps in this recipe is creaming the butter. The recipe asks for the butter to be creamed for about 2 minutes, and that is about right, but if you look at it, and it isn't creamed or fluffy enough, then give it another minute or so. Similarly for when you add the sugar, beat it more if it isn't fluffy enough. 
After the creaming stage, don't over beat anything. In fact, stop when you think that maybe it needs one last beat. The last phase will ask you to fold in the flour, at which you can make sure that it is all incorporated. Gently and lovingly, fold in the flour, to ensure that all the lightness to the batter that has been created with the creaming isn't lost. 

Recipe courtesy: Dédé Wilson
Yield: Serves 10

1 2/3 cups (173g) sifted bleached cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (266g) superfine sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Coat an 8-by-4-inch (20-by-10cm) metal loaf pan with nonstick baking spray (the kind with the fat and flour, such as Baker’s Joy). Line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper that extends up and out of the narrow sides of the pan; coat the paper as well.
  2. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. 
  3. Whisk the eggs together in a large measuring cup, or whisk in a bowl and transfer to a pitcher with a spout, set aside. 
  4. Beat the butter in bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. 
  5. Gradually add the sugar, 1/4 cup (50g) at a time (you can do this by eye) and beat on high speed until the mixture has lightened and is very fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Do not rush this step. The mixture should be room temperature at this point. Turn off the mixer and touch the mixture to check. Keep beating if it is cool to the touch. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Add the eggs about 1 tablespoon at a time (you can do this by eye), beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl occasionally. Once all the eggs are added, beat the mixture for about 30 seconds to make sure it is thoroughly combined. It should be smooth and satiny. If it looks curdled or separated in any way, the mixture is still too cold. Let it sit to warm up a bit and beat again, looking for the visual cues described above.
  7. Sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the batter (removing the bowl from the stand mixer, if using), and fold in gently with a large silicone spatula. Stop when a few streaks of flour remain, then add the next batch of flour mixture and continue until all has been added. Make sure all the flour mixture has been incorporated into the batter to create a thick and smooth homogenous batter. Scrape the batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a small offset spatula.
  8. Bake until a wooden toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the cake just tests clean when removed, 70 minutes to 80 minutes. The toothpick should look a bit moist and not bone-dry. Halfway through the baking, rotate the pan once front to back. The timing will depend on the temperature of your ingredients when the cake went into the oven. Cool the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then unfold the cake, peel away the parchment, place the cake upright, and cool completely. Store the cake, well wrapped with plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 4 days. Cake texture is best, and it slices most neatly after an overnights rest.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Orange Cardamom Crumb Coffee Cake

 Imagine slicing into a warm and moist cake, with a crusty and spicy crumb topping, sipping your cup of hot coffee (or tea in my case). Life will definitely be good at that moment. Dédé Wilson's recipe is true perfection. Just follow it exactly and you are guaranteed perfection. 
With baking you have to measure precisely, timings and temperatures are important. And use the pan recommended. An 8-inch square pan, with straight upright edges, will work great for this cake. 

Yield: Serves 9 to 12
Recipe Courtesy Dédé Wilson

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (169g) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (156g) all-purpose flour

2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup  (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon orange zest (if making Orange Cardamon Cake variation)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (227g) sour cream, at room temperature

  1. For the crumb topping: Whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon (or cinnamon and cardamom, if making the Orange Cardamom Cake variation), and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour. Create crumbs by squeezing the mixture together with fingers. Set aside.
  2. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Coat an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with nonstick baking spray. 
  3. For the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla (and the orange zest if making the Orange Cardamom Cake variation). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. The mixture might look curdled, that’s okay.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three batches alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat briefly until smooth. The batter will be thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter, covering it completely and gently pressing the topping onto the batter.
  6. Bake until a wooden toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the cake shows a few moist crumbs when removed, 55 to 65 minutes. The crumb topping will be golden brown and perhaps a bit crusty. Cool the pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes. The cake is ready to serve warm or at room temperature, simply cut into squares. Store the cake well wrapped (still in pan) with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Orange Cardamom Crumb Coffee Cake Variation
Use 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon cardamom for the topping. Add 1 tablespoon orange zest to the batter when you add the vanilla. Make sure it is extra fine in texture and made with a Microplane rasp style zester.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Banana Nutella Cake

I keep reading this recipe in my Alice's TeaCup cookbook and wanting to make it, but then save the ripe bananas to make The Best Ever Banana Bread. This time around, the ripe bananas made their way into this recipe. And am I happy about it! It is a two-layer cake, but I frosted one layer for us at home, and the other layer got frosted and sent to school, to my sons joy and excitement (without the Nutella layer to keep it nut-free)! The recipe below will describe it as a two-layer cake. 

Makes one 8-inch two layer cake
From Alice’s TeaCup

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 very ripe bananas

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup / 8oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 cups Nutella


  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Have ready two 8-inch round pans
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients
  3. In a large bowl, use a mixer to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs and mix until well blended. With the mixer set to low, add a little bit of the flour mixture at a time, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just until smooth. 
  4. Use a spatula to gently fold in the bananas. 
  5. Pour the batter evenly between the two cake pans, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Set the layers aside to cool completely in the pans before frosting the cake.
  6. To make the frosting: Use a mixer to cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  7. Frost each layer with Nutella and stack them. Spread the cream cheese over the top and sides.