Vanilla Pound Cake with Raspberry Compote
By Wolfgang Puck
Pound cake is an ideal treat for you to prepare.
Just think of all the ways you can eat pound cake. Have a simple slice the usual way, with a cup of morning coffee or afternoon tea. Or toast slices under the broiler to enjoy for breakfast or dessert. Top pound cake, plain or toasted, with some lemon curd or warm fruit compote for an elegant dessert. Use it as you would shortcake in the classic strawberry dessert, finished with a dollop of whipped cream. Or add a scoop of ice cream, fruit of your choice, and maybe some hot fudge sauce.
Any way you think about it, pound cake is delicious.
The recipe itself is so easy to make that even a novice can earn a reputation as a great baker.
You can mix the batter quickly with a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer. The measurements couldn't be simpler, reflecting the name: a pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. You don't even have to do much to prepare the pair of loaf pans, though I find they unmold more easily if you put a piece of buttered parchment paper in the bottom of each. (To fit the paper, put a sheet of it on a cutting board, place the pan right side up on top, and cut around the bottom of the pan with the tip of a small, sharp knife.)
As for the baking, make sure before you start that your oven cooks at the right temperature. You can calibrate your oven by placing an oven thermometer on the middle rack and setting the oven to the desired temperature. If the actual temperature doesn't match the setting, adjust the dial up or down to get the desired temperature.
Once the cake has baked for the suggested time, check for doneness by inserting a long wooden toothpick or wooden skewer into the center. It should come out clean. If some batter still sticks to it, bake for another 10 minutes or so before testing again.
You'll be an expert pound cake chef in no time.
Then, start experimenting with the flavor. Try adding some grated citrus zest, chopped dried fruit or crystallized ginger, or chocolate chips. Or color and flavor half of the batter with cocoa powder or melted chocolate, and then swirl the two batters together in the pans for marbled pound cake.
Vanilla Pound Cake with Raspberry Compote Recipe
Makes 2 loaves, each 9 by 5 by 3 inches
Melted butter, for brushing loaf pans
1 pound (500 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pound (500 g) sugar
8 large eggs
1 pound (500 g) cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Raspberry Compote (recipe follows)
Whipped cream, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (180 degrees C).
Brush the insides of two 8-by-5-by-3-inch (22.5-by-12.5-by-7.5-cm) loaf pans with melted butter. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and brush the paper again with melted butter.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter and vanilla extract until creamy, about 5 minutes; alternatively, put the butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on high speed. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) at a time, and continue to beat until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy, 10 to 12 minutes.
Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour and salt until well blended.
Pour half of the batter into each prepared loaf pan. Bake until the tops of the cakes are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer the pans to a rack and cool for 10 minutes; then, carefully invert the pans onto the rack, lift off the pans, and continue to cool the cakes.
Serve the pound cake slightly warm or at room temperature, cutting it crosswise into slices. If you like, serve each slice topped with Raspberry Compote and whipped cream.
Raspberry Compote Recipe
Makes about 2 cups (500 ml)
3 cups (750 ml) ripe raspberries, rinsed
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the berries, sugar, and lemon juice. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves and the berries give up their juices. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the juices thicken to a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a nonreactive bowl. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate.
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