Summer Baking!

Of course you know Ilove to sew, but I love to bake as well. I don’t bake much during the summer months; it’s just too hot in our un-airconditioned house. Today was cloudy and cool, so it was a perfect day to put my baker’s hat on and make something sweet and delicious.

I chose this Buttermilk Pound Cake because it gives me the option to make one HUGE tube or Bundt cake, or two big loaf cakes. Although fresh berries, a fruit sauce, whipped cream or even a bit of chocolate or caramel sauce are all great on this dense, vanilla marvel, it stands up well on its own. For a nice variation that works well with the tang of the buttermilk, add the juice and grated zest of a lemon. Is chocolate more your thing? Add a quarter cup of dark cocoa powder and a teaspoon of espresso powder. This cake is very moist, so it freezes exceptionally well. Just wrap it in freezer paper, and then over wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Don’t freeze until it’s completely cool.

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Serves up to 16. In our house, it serves 2.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Move the oven rack so that it is 6” above the floor of the oven. Thoroughly, thoroughly grease a 10” tube pan, a traditional Bundt pan, or two 9” x 5” loaf pans. Dust the pans with flour after greasing.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 2 sticks (1 cup) of room-temperature butter with 2 cups of sugar for 6 full minutes. Don’t use cold butter and don’t cream for less time, or for more time. Six minutes.

Beat in 4 (1 cup by volume) room-temperature eggs, one at a time. Make sure each egg is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next egg. Stir in 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. (You may use any flavor you prefer, of course. Lemon, almond, and rum are all good choices.)

Sift together 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture until incorporated. Stir in 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture. When it’s incorporated, beat the batter on medium high for 30 seconds.

Fill your prepared pans. The batter should be very smooth and very thick. Run a thin spatula or table knife through the filled pans to eliminate any voids in the batter. Smooth the tops of the filled pans.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes. The tops of the cake(s) will crack; the cracks should appear moist. The edges of the cake should just start to pull away from the edges of the pan. The tops of the cake should be a deep golden brown. The cake should spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack, then turn the cake out of the pan. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edges of the pan to facilitate its release. If the cake cools too much, it will not release from the pan, so don’t wait too long to do this. Allow to fully cool on a rack.

When it’s cool, cut off a slab, grab a cup of coffee and dig in. You can thank me later.

Joan Radell