Sunday, October 27, 2002

Mega Vanilla Pound Cake and Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake

Pound cake, a traditional favorite, is the perfect vehicle for vanilla; the butter-sugar-eggs-flour combination is a rich-but-plain base on which to overlay other flavors. The original recipe, upon which ours is based, called for a tablespoon of vanilla extract, so I knew it would be noticeably vanilla-y; still, vanilla has a tendency to fade in the heat of the oven, so I decided to add a clear vanilla glaze, poking holes in the warm cake so that the strong flavor of vanilla would permeate it both inside and out. The result: a dense, moist vanilla cake, perfect to serve as is, or adorned with berries or sliced peaches.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Queen Guinevere Cake Flour
4 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

CAKE: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, salt, vanilla and baking powder till smooth and fluffy. Add the flour and mix well; the batter will be almost paste-like. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition; the batter will be quite fluffy.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9- to 10-inch tube pan, 9- to 10-cup bundt-style pan, or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake the cake in a preheated 350F oven for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, while you're making the glaze.

GLAZE: Bring the sugar, water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, and boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

Turn the warm cake out onto a rack. Poke the cake all over with something long and thin, like a cake tester or ice pick. Slowly drizzle or brush the glaze over the cake, continuing to brush till the glaze is gone. Allow the cake to cool fully before slicing. Serve with sliced fresh fruit, if desired. Yield: 1 cake, about 16 servings.

Note: The glaze for the chocolate pound cake, below, also makes a pretty glaze for this vanilla cake.

The following recipe comes from, where it was posted by Maddie. She says, This is one of my favorite pound cakes, and if I don't make at least once a month, my neighbor won't speak to me! Exactly like its vanilla counterpart in texture moist and denseits deeply chocolate, though adding a vanilla glaze demonstrates the affinity of the two flavors for one another.

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
one 8-ounce container sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup cocoa, natural or Dutch-process
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, but good)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Note: Maddie didnt call for King Arthur, but that’s what we tested the cake with. We also used our dark Double-Dutch cocoa, which was wonderful.

CAKE: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set the mixture aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each addition. Add the cocoa, beating until its incorporated. Beat in half of the flour mixture, scrape the sides of the bowl well, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla. Add the remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9-cup bundt-style pan or 9-inch tube pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. The cake will look somewhat moist on top, but a cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, while youre making the glaze.

GLAZE: In a small saucepan, whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove it from the heat, and carefully stir in the vanilla, watching out for splatters. Note: The longer you boil the glaze, the stiffer and more crackly itll become. We like to bring it just to boiling, then remove it from the heat.

Turn the cake out onto a wire rack, and poke it all over with a cake tester. Brush or drizzle it with the glaze. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. Yield: 1 cake, about 16 servings.

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