Dorie’s Truly Perfect Pound Cake
Yesterday, when I came home from walking the dog, there was a brown package waiting for me. As soon as I spotted it, I had a totally precious yet fleeting moment of extreme joy. You see, I love brown paper packages tied up with strings… Ever since the days of sleep away camp and tie die t-shirts. How well I remember the anticipation of opening a care package… One that my mom lovingly put together from nick knacks in our junk drawer; one that I looked forward to discovering in the campus mail room after breakfast.
Back to the story. I found the package and felt an unparalleled excitement, which was swiftly followed by a deep dread that only he could inflict.
Yes, him. The ex-boyfriend, ex-fiance, ex-guy that was supposed to marry me.
Let me just tell you, this story didn’t end how you probably think. I was expecting some sad, dull box of my old clothes, or keepsakes. Some dreary box of memories past. But it actually wasn’t that bad. No, not that bad at all.
He had sent me vanilla beans he got from his last cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. I was not really sure why, and in my bitter resentment, I almost wished he hadn’t bothered. At first I never wanted to use them. I just wanted to bury them in the depths of my trash can. Hide them so quickly that they would avoid the barrage of feelings that begin to stir at the the thought of him, or us.
But, lets not get carried away here. I had never used a vanilla before, and I certainly was not going to miss out on this opportunity.
What’s a girl to do with a bunch of plump luscious vanilla beans? Poor me, right?
So I got baking. And my toughest decision, in those precious moments, were what to bake first. Nothing more complicated than that. Although, the decision was surprisingly tough. Cheesecake, or sables, or pie or pudding…
I ended up baking Dorie Greenspan’s perfection pound cake. But I threw in the seeds of two whole vanilla beans. It is a cake of perfection, indeed. Buttery, with a light crumb, and beautifully crisp on top. Simple enough to whip up for a weekday, but totally delicious and worthy of any celebration. Perfect.
Dorie’s Perfection Pound Cake with vanilla beans
On my quest to pound cake perfection, with tremendous lessons from Dorie’s baking bible and Serious Eats, I’ve picked up a few tricks. Like, always bring the eggs to room temperature before adding to the mix. And remember to beat the mixture for one to two minutes after the addition of an egg. And speaking of eggs, always add them one by one. Another thing? Beat the butter and sugar up. Fight-club style. Till its light and fluffy and feels like a butter cloud. Sometimes this takes 4 to 5 minutes in a stand mixer. An extra few minutes that is well worth the additional fluffiness. And lastly, don’t over mix the batter. Now, these are just a few tricks that I have actually employed in my baking. They’re worth the extra time, trust me.
This pound cake is true to it’s title. Perfect, in every way.
Perfection Pound Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s seriously amazing Baking From My Home to Yours
2 1/4 cups cake flour (2 cups all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 vanilla beans, seeds reserved
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and butter and flour a loaf pan. (9 x 5 or 8 1/2 x 4 1/2)
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Beat butter and sugar for 4 to 5 minutes, on a high speed in a stand mixer. If you’re mixing by hand, get those arms prepared because they’re in for a workout.
4. Scrape down the mixture and add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each addition.
5. Scrape down the mixture again.
6. Mix in those delicious, caviar-like vanilla bean seeds.
7. Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in flour until just combined. Don’t over mix.
8. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake, 70 minutes for the larger pan and about 90 minutes for the smaller one.
9. Let cool before slicing.