Some fisherman live by a little motto associated with an acronym that you may have heard. They call it "CPR" and it stands for "catch, photograph, and release." If you're a food blogger who focuses on baked goods and desserts you probably already know full well that some of the items you'll make will be so densely packed with temptation that you'll be forced to CPR them--that is, you'll plate up just one serving, photograph it, and then, bravely, freeze or banish most of the remainder.
This brown sugar pound cake is just such a temptress. I suspected last night that I'd need to place this velvety pound cake in the deep freeze to stave off personal over-indulgence. But this morning I realized the freezer was an absolute certainty when my husband, on his way out the door, glanced back at me and said, "Don't let me eat any of that really good cake today, okay?"
Man, he's stoic. I have to admire that guy. He's lately been working particularly hard on losing weight, and I don't want to sabotage his efforts. I, too, am intimately familiar with the weight struggle, so, my overriding thought right now is: Thank God for plastic wrap, Zip-Loc freezer bags, and refrigeration. Out of sight, out of mind is good, and sometimes out of house, out of mind is even better.
About this recipe . . .
This pound cake recipe is adapted from chefs Todd English and Paige Retus's book, The Olives Dessert Table. Elegant but unpretentious, the small volume is jam packed with creatively plated desserts, and the self-proclaimed "familiar made finer" recipes are presented in a way that seems specifically designed to neither intimidate nor discourage home cooks. In my ever-growing collection of cookbooks, it's definitely one of my faves.
What did I change in the pound cake's original recipe? Along with rewording the instructions, instead of using all white sugar, I subbed in about three quarters light brown sugar, and for the remainder I used white cane sugar (the use of light brown sugar was suggested in the book as a possible variation). I also, on a whim, threw in one tablespoon of real maple syrup to add depth of character to the flavor. (The recipe also suggests adding in nuts or dried fruit, but I wasn't at all crazy about that idea so I left those out.)
Noticing that the recipe didn't call for any chemical leavener at all concerned me a bit, so I decided to sift in 1/2 tsp. of baking powder with the flour and salt. I don't honestly know exactly how the pound cake would have turned out had I not included baking powder . . . probably would have just been more dense? I suppose. Before deciding to do that, though, I skimmed through about six other basic pound cake recipes in six different cookbooks to get a better feel for the general leavening situation. Those recipes were all fairly varied, but none of them omitted either baking powder or baking soda altogether.
The addition of apples sauteed in browned butter, light brown sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and a squeeze of fresh orange juice was my own idea, thrown together, along with that dollop of sweetened cinnamon-kissed whipped cream. See how my mind works? I know. I guess I'm just incorrigible.
Brown Sugar Pound Cake . . . with Sauteed Apples and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" metal loaf pan, and one mini loaf pan or something of comparable size. (Please note that when I made this recipe, it produced a little too much batter for a 9" loaf pan, so I put about one cup of the batter into a mini loaf pan in order to avoid catastrophe. I suggest you have a mini pan prepared as well in case this happens to you too! The mini loaf will bake much faster than the big loaf, so don't forget about it when they're both in the oven.)
Ingredients for the pound cake:
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 and 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated white sugar (I used pure cane sugar.)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. real maple syrup (I used Trader Joe's brand--good, but not super expensive.)
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 and 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached, and I sifted .)
3/4 tsp. salt (I used regular table salt this time, not kosher/coarse.)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.Set aside.
In the large bowl of your mixer, beat the butter for several minutes until it looks light, fluffy, and almost white.
Add in all of the sugar and beat well, for another minute or so.
Pour in the vanilla, and then add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed for at least a couple of minutes after each addition.
Add in the flour mixture all at once, and beat on lowest speed just until combined. Or if you prefer, do this by hand, folding the flour gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s), and bake on the middle rack of your oven for at least one hour (mine took closer to 75 minutes).
Check the loaf after half an hour or so to see how it's browning. I covered the top of mine lightly with foil after it had been in the oven about 40 minutes, to prevent burning. Remove the loaf from the oven when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out completely clean, and when a finger tapped on the top of the loaf doesn't leave an impression. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes. Turn it carefully out of the pan and let it cool fully on the rack before trying to slice it.
Store the cake well covered. It should keep really well for a few days and, like so many pound cakes, it apparently improves with age.
Ingredients for sauteed apples (this makes enough for up to 4 servings):
2 medium size apples, peeled and cored (I used Pink Lady apples; firm and very sweet), and sliced into pieces about 1/4" thick
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
2 to 4 pinches ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (use a nice sweet orange)
To make the sauteed apples:
Heat a medium size saute pan on the stove over medium-low heat for a minute or two. Add in the butter, letting it melt and begin to slightly brown. Add in the apples and stir to coat them in the butter. Let them simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle on the brown sugar and cinnamon, stirring it lightly to coat the apples; simmer a couple more minutes. Add in the orange juice and stir to combine. Continue simmering until the apples begin are tender but not mushy. Keep an eye on the pan and be careful not to let the sugar and butter mixture burn. Turn off the fire and let the mixture cool slightly in the pan while you plate your pound cake and whip the cream.
Ingredients for sweetened cinnamon whipped cream (makes about two cups whipped):
1 cup cold heavy cream
4 tbsp. confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 pinches ground cinnamon
To make sweetened cinnamon whipped cream:
In a chilled bowl, beat the cream on medium high speed until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle in the confectioners' sugar and the cinnamon. Keep beating until the cream forms soft peaks. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.
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Jane's Sweets & Baking Journalwas born of my ever increasing desire to learn more about the baking and pastry arts, and of my love for anything and everything related to baking. Just as food is meant to be shared, so is knowledge among bakers and among those who enjoy delicious foods prepared from scratch. So, please partake, and feel free to share your thoughts and comments. I'd love to hear from you.
If you'd like to know a bit about me please click here, or look for the tiny photo of a pink cupcake topped by a strawberry, further down, in the "About me"section. You can also reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org . . .
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JANE'S FAVORITE BAKING BOOKS
About Professional Baking: The Essentials, by Gail Sokol. This is a textbook, but not one that's intimidating. It contains lots of useful info, including interesting personal profiles of professional chefs.
All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett. Another winner of the IACP award. Loads of good looking cookie recipes with lots of very appetizing photos. (Don't you love cookbooks with tons of pictures? I do.)
All-American Dessert Book, by Nancy Baggett. Wonderfully detailed, with very reliable recipes, Baggett does it again in this valuable cookbook. Definitely worth your time!
Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet. This large Gourmet Cook Book Club Selection is a feast for the eyes. I love the page layout, the photos, and the author's reassuring tone. Recipes range from the quotidian ("classic sugar cookies") to the ridiculous ("Moroccan-spiced sweet-potato tiropetes") to the absolute sublime ("duo-tone chocolate pots de creme"). Worth acquiring.
Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, by the Culinary Institute of America. This is a heavy duty textbook, not for the faint of heart. Intimidating, sure, but also kind of fascinating if you're an obsessive bake-a-holic like me.
Baking with Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan and based on the PBS series hosted by Julia Child. Yet another hefty and dazzling coffee-table-worthy cookbook. Wonderful to have around. (My copy was autographed by Julia herself!)
Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, published in 1950 and available in a facsimile edition, holds a special place in my heart. This is the book my mom primarily used, or so it seemed, when I was a kid. The photos are such period pieces, and the little notations that accompany recipes are pricelessly cute and corny. I have an ancient copy that I still use. Every girl needs a copy of this in her house, for good karma if nothing else.
Bitter Sweet -- Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate, by Alice Medrich. Much more than just a cookbook with a focus on fine dark chocolate, this is also a memoir of sorts from a legendary chocolate-dessert creator. Medrich is often credited with awakening American tastes to the finest aspects of superior chocolate. Very interesting read!
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes,by Jeffrey Hamelman. An indispensable book for anyone who is seriously interested in learning to make fine yeast breads, Hamelman shares far more than just technical knowledge. Like fellow bread guru Peter Reinhart, his warmth of spirit and deep love for the tradition of bread baking shines through on every page.
Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham. Not to be confused with the character of the mom on Happy Days, the real Marion Cunningham has a long list of writing accomplishments, the most well known being that she completely revised The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. A contemporary of the late James Beard's, she is still held in high esteem.
Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is really into the science of baking, which can be helpful in some respects and off-putting in others. Like gardeners who talk mostly about soil components without conveying their joy in the plants themselves. Maybe I'm too sensitive? Probably so, as many consider this to be an invaluable classic. Despite my reservations, I wouldn't part with my copy. One of several highly detailed books by Rose. Her latest book, Heavenly Cakes, is much more down to earth, loaded with photos, and truly beautiful.
Cake Book, by Tish Boyle. I've called it a treasure trove before and please allow me to say it again here. This book is jam packed with wonderful stuff that's well explained. I used the Sacher-torte recipe in the fall of '09 for a culinary school project and it didn't let me down. I can endorse this book without reservation. I love it.
Complete Book of Pastry Sweet & Savory, by Bernard Clayton, Jr. When this book appeared in 1981, famed food editor Craig Claiborne praised it in the NYT as "one of the most important cookbooks of this year, if not of this decade." No photos, but don't let that dissuade you.
Craft of Baking, by Karen DeMasco & Mindy Fox. In 2009, some great new cookbooks were published and this was one of them. Down to earth, straightforward without being condescending, this smart guide offers creative and simple twists on dozens of diverse and well-proven "cakes, cookies, and other sweets."
Dessert University, by Roland Mesnier. As the White House executive pastry chef for over two decades, Mesnier has a lot of wisdom to impart. He does so well in this book, which is designed specifically for home bakers. A good book!
Grand Central Baking Book, by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson. Readers are welcomed into these pages with a tone of warmth and familiarity. The photos alone will have you scribbling a grocery list. Try the berry kuchen recipe--simple and scrumptious.
Hershey's Chocolate Treasury, published in 1984 by Hershey Foods and chock full of old reliables. The recipe for Black Magic cake is one I've used again and again--invaluable!
How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri. The writing style is matter of fact and fairly informal. That's one of my favorite things about Malgieri's books.
Magical Art of Cake Decorating, by Carole Collier. Sometimes at a used book sale you find an old gem like this. Published in '84, I found it very encouraging when I first began decorating cakes. The recipes are rock solid reliable.
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, by Maida Heatter. Famed baker (apparently her "Palm Beach Brownies" are known far and wide), whose work has centered on wondrous chocolate desserts, Heatter received a James Beard award for this book, one of many she's published over several active decades.
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, by Martha Stewart. Beautiful photos, but I must admit I've come to have reservations about the reliability of some of the recipes. Is it just me? Though I love flipping through the book for ideas, I'm a bit on the fence with this one when it comes to actual usage.
Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart. Talk about a stunning and inspiring book! Chances are you may never decide to actually make one of the cakes from this glorious volume, but it's enough just to page through the gorgeous pictures and interesting recipes. Expensive? For sure, but worth it.
Passion for Baking, A by Marcy Goldman. If you're curious about how professional bakers manage to make things come out nicely every time, you'll appreciate this book. Goldman, in her highly approachable style, divulges many of their simple--but enormously helpful--tricks and techniques, and shows readers how to implement them throughout the wondrous array of down-to-earth recipes that pack this great book. Loads of enticing photos, too! I love this book!
Perfect Cakes, by Nick Malgieri. Can't say enough about Malgieri's books. Absolutely worth using, versus just reading! The white and dark chocolate cheesecake is to die for; I've made it a few times, along with many other recipes from this book, and it is superb.
Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday, by Peter Reinhart. This book is a revelation for anyone who approaches yeast recipes like a vampire approaches the dawn. Talk about down to earth, encouraging, and flexible! This guy knows how to talk to rookie breadmakers. Well worth reading, and using, this volume will find a comfy place in your cookbook collection--a worthwhile purchase, undoubtedly!
Professional Cake Decorating, by Toba Garrett. I get the impression that this book is perceived as the most thorough and comprehensive text available for serious students of cake decorating. This is the text that we used for my culinary school Beginning Cake Decorarting class (which means I finally own my own copy!).
Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, by Sarabeth Levine. Almost too pretty to use, but use it anyway! This big book is so appealing, and the photos so remarkably enticing, you'll want to pick it up like a sandwich and bite right into it. Fine recipes for updated classics, well explained, from the famous Manhattan bakery. Worth buying. (You'll love it!)
Secrets of Baking, by Sherry Yard. A must have, bakers! This cookbook's forte is the way it's organized; master recipes are presented with full explanations of how they can be used, and related recipes follow, section by section. An exceptional manual to refer to. Get your own copy!
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. Huntsman is the professional pastry chef behind this beautiful book, filled with many tempting recipes, all designed specifically and scaled perfectly for three layers. I've made the Devil's food cake thus far, and it was exceptional--it rose well, was very moist, and had great depth of flavor. I'll be using this book more in the future, without a doubt. Love the photos also!
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. . . to never endorse a product of any kind on Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal that I do not believe in. I've never done so thus far, and I vow never to do so. If I tell you I think something is great, or that I think it is worth spending real money on, then I mean it, rest assured. I promise. And, if I ever talk about a product that I've been given to review or try out, I will disclose that in the post.
I'm a mom with two great sons (both now in college), and a really nice husband. I left a long editorial career in reference publishing a few years ago and I've had nary a regret. I recently finished (after four part-time years!) a Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate program in the Culinary Studies Institute at a local community college. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and I am so glad I did it. These days, I do a lot of freelance editorial work, something that I really enjoy.
"Jane's Sweets" was the name of a very small baking enterprise that I started in late 2007. It bloomed a bit, for a little while, with encouragement from my husband, my aunt, and my first cake decorating teacher, Cindy. Because my Aunt Lydia was my most ardent female supporter in this baking endeavor (she was a lifelong independent business owner herself), this blog is dedicated to her memory. If heaven is real, then I know she's there with my mom, baking up a storm. Like Lydia said one day, just before her 80th birthday, while she and my mom and I were baking in my mom's kitchen, "It's been a fun ride. I'd do it all over again!"
If my house were on fire, I'd grab my family, then I'd grab my KitchenAid mixer.
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