Monday, October 13, 2008

Million Dollar Pound Cake

We were supposed to have company for dinner yesterday. Unfortunately, our guest canceled. The good news is that I was focused on a do-ahead menu, so yesterday was a day off in the kitchen.

We feasted on easy bruschetta, salad, lasagna and Million Dollar Pound cake with fresh strawberries. I mention that poundcake because I always think pound cake is better the second day anyway, and this one freezes well.

To my mind, pound cake is the perfect starting poing for a lot of desserts. Trifle, for example, or chocolate fondue, or with fruit, like we did, and there's nothing plain about just plain pound cake.

A good poundcake is rich, dense, moist and velvety with a crunchy sweet crust. I don't really know what some of those cakes that are sold in the grocery store as pound cake are, but let me be clear: Those soft wet cakes don't stand up to real poundcake, the kind with about a pound of every ingredient. This one is the real deal, and it's delicious!

From one of Southern Living Annual cookbooks . . .

Million-Dollar Pound Cake
Yield: 1

Ingredients

1 lb butter; softened (4 sticks)
3 c sugar
6 eggs
4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c milk
1 ts almond extract
1 ts vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch tube
pan or Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter;
gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a
time, beating after each addition. Gradually add flour alternately with
milk, beginning and ending with the flour and mixing well after each
addition. Beat in extracts.

Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until a
wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan
for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Secrets to success?

Warm the butter for at least 30 minutes to room temperature.
Cream it thoroughly, until it's light and fluffy.
Preheat the oven thoroughly, too, and don't open the oven door until you think it's probably done. Setting a timer for that helps.

You can use other extracts, of course. The mix of vanilla and almond gives this a light flavor that people keep trying to identify . . . which might be why the cake that I provided in time for a midafternoon lunch is more than half gone this morning.

Enjoy!

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