Cultured Butter Pound Cake

I am still at it! This is Pound cake attempt number 3 AND 4! I got to thinking about the whole issue of shortening in my previous recipes and I just could not with good conscience proceed without trying a traditional pound cake. NO CHEATING! No leavening agents, no sour cream or cream cheese, and definitely no shortening. Just to see the difference. I poured over dozens of Pound Cake recipes each stating that they were the best or perfect or whatever. The ingredients are so simple.... Just butter, sugar, flour, eggs and some vanilla. I decided I had to make my own cultured butter if I was going to produce a blue ribbon traditional pound cake.

So Butter...

Luckily food bloggers are a zany bunch and we like to make the simplest recipes as complicated as possible... Hell if I had access to a milk cow!!! Fortunately I don't have a cow so I could skip that step and go purchase heavy cream from the store. Sure I could have purchased a really top notch cultured butter from that very same store but, where is the adventure in that???? The cake would have taken two hours instead of three days... how would that make any sense... how I ask you!

Ok deeeeep cleansing breath...

Cultured butter is neat! And so easy to do your self! Just get yourself a to the store and pick up some heavy cream (no stabilizers just cream!) and live active cultured plain yogurt (read the label to make sure those critters are in there!). Bring it home and pour the cream into your KA mixing bowl, add some yogurt and let it sit overnight. the next day whip it until the cream starts too curdle. Slow the mixer down at this point and magically the curds turn to butter. The liquid is cultured butter milk so save that too! For a really good and thorough step by step explanation go visit The Traveler's Lunchbox

Once you have made your cultured butter toast some bread and slather it all over. Relax. You are done for the day. Place your butter and butter milk in the fridge and enjoy your toast, tomorrow we make POUND CAKE. Remember?

Cook’s Illustrated Classic Pound Cake

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (8 ounces)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (9 ounces)
3 large eggs (5.25 ounces, without the shells)
3 large egg yolks (2 ounces)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons water
½ teaspoon table salt
1 ½ cups cake flour (6 ounces)

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3 1/2-inch loaf pan (7 1/2-inch capacity) with vegetable shortening or spray. Line the bottom and sides of pan with parchment paper or foil.

Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 15 seconds. With machine still on, take about 30 seconds to sprinkle in sugar. Beat mixture until light, fluffy and almost white, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping mixer once or twice to scrape down sides of bowl.

Mix eggs, yolks, vanilla and water in a 2 cup glass measure with a pour spout, set in a pan of tepid water until mixture is about 70 degrees. With mixer set at medium-high speed, take 3 to 5 minutes to add egg mixture to butter/sugar mixture in a very slow, thin stream. Finally, beat in salt.

Remove bowl from mixer stand. Turn 1/2 cup flour into sieve or shaker; sprinkle it over batter. Fold gently with rubber spatula, scraping up from bottom of the bowl, until flour is incorporated. Repeat twice more, adding flour in 1/2-cup increments.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula or wooden spoon. Bake until cake needle or tester inserted into crack running along top comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cake rest in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Place second wire rack on cake bottom, then turn cake top side up. Cool to room temperature, remove and discard parchment, wrap cake in plastic, then in foil. Store cake at room temperature.

Serves about 10.

Yep. I went to Cooks Country! This recipe came out great! A slight crunch to the crust. Very buttery flavor right up front with just a slight hint of vanilla for the finish. Moist, dense, and oh so photogenic!!! I did a variation on this recipe along with the original. The variation has malt added. I baked it in a 6inch cake pan. I really love the flavor the malt adds but, it does mute the cultured butter. I would use malt if I was using regular store bought butter. Another thing I noticed with this recipe was the difference in texture between the two cakes. The original was baked in a mini bundt pan and seemed a little lighter and rose higher than the cake baked in a cake pan. hmmm. I think the center tube really helps even baking. What do you think?

Malted Waffles

I have been trying all sorts of waffle recipes. Yeasted, overnight, beaten egg whites, lemon, buttermilk, quick and easy, long and drawn out... the results were good but, not really blog worthy. My Waffle iron found a new home on a lonely shelf. I began to obsess about other recipes (see Pound cakes!). Then one glorious afternoon I took a trip to the wine country.  I was perusing the brunch menu when  stumbled upon this description at King's Estates restaurant:

"Malted Waffles with Orange butter, organic maple syrup and estate grown berries"

Cue angelic choir....

Is that strange to quote a menu?! Can you believe I. did. not. even order these? I know!

Well I may not have had them at the winery but I had them securely set in my file of things to try at home. I finally got around to it today. I found a recipe by google-ing on a couple of blogs. The recipe seems to be the same so I'm not really sure who started it or who to credit but Real Mom Kitchen was the first to catch my eye.  I veered off the recipe a bit... I just beat the egg in the milk. In previous attempts at waffles the separated beaten egg white did not stand out enough  to dirty more dishes. 

I'm happy to report that these are really easy and very tasty. I love the malt flavor. A few tweaks for my own personal taste would be More Malt! and a hint of vanilla. If your feeling really randy make the orange butter and you can have a brunch worthy of edible poetry worth quoting. 

Malted Waffles

from Real Mom Kitchen

1 egg, separated (room temp) - I did not do this
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons malted milk powder- more more more
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled


Beat egg white in a small bowl until stiff and set aside. Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Combine egg yolk, milk and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Fold in beaten egg white until just mixed. Do not overbeat batter. NOTE: Use in your waffle iron according to your mfg's instructions.

Orange Butter

from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

1/2 cup butter (unsalted)

2 tablespoons brown sugar packed

zest of  1 orange

2 tablespoons orange juice

Beat the butter with the brown sugar until it's soft and creamy. Beat in the orange zest and juice until light.  Serve over warm malted waffles.

Fig and Lavender Goat Cheese Pastries...

I think this may be the fancy-est dessert I have made to date.

The inspiration struck on Tuesday at the local farmers market in downtown Eugene. If you live near here and have not checked out the weekday market it is amazing. The focus is on local produce AND local food products. I tried some really beautiful rose petal jam (for the life of me I cant figure out why I did not buy a jar!), homemade shortbread, an assortment of flavored goat cheeses, and fresh figs.  The figs made it home with me along with a flat of assorted berries and cherries. I will be back next week for that jam!

I was going to make a gellate or something like a rustic pie but the figs are so delicate I thought puff pastry would be a better match. I have never made puff from scratch... someday... so I used frozen squares. This way you can make this super fast!

Fig and Lavender Goat Cheese Pastries

4 fresh figs

4oz of goat cheese 

Lavender- to taste

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup Almond meal

sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

To make the lavender goat cheese let the cheese soften to room temperature and mix in a couple of crushed lavender buds and the teaspoon of honey. Mix it well and taste. If you want a stronger lavender flavor keep crushing and adding and tasting until you get to your desired strength. I tend to go light on the lavender giving it just a hint in the pastry...

Slice the stem off your FRESH delicious figs and slice into 4 slices.

arrange your puff pastry however you like. I made a little box by slicing off the edges andattaching them with water on a square of pastry.

Spread 1/4 of your cheese on the pastry then coat with the almond meal add the figs, a drizzle of honey, and some lavender flowers (this is optional).

Brush the exposed pastry dough with an egg wash.

Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until pastry has turned golden, the goat cheese has puffed up, and the figs are juicy!

Sorry Cake Slice Bakers

I was at the Oregon Country Fair and could not be persauded to turn on my oven!

I think I finally get the whole cupcake thing...

Blood orange buttercream frosting and a vanilla cupcake!

I have ordered a cupcake only cook book... sigh... It has begun.

Miss Edna Faust's Blue Ribbon Pound Cake

Well if Miss Edna could win a blue ribbon with this pound cake I bet I can too! This is my second pound cake from the book  "Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations" by Nancy McDermott.

This is one fabulous pound cake! It came out tall and proud from my tube pan. the crust was golden with a delicate crunch. The interior had a dense crumb, moist but not soggy interior, and really lovely crunch from the vanilla bean I (Miss Katie- I know it does not sound as cool as Miss Edna!) decided to add.  Flavor wise it has a really delicate vanilla flavor and is a bit sweet. The upfront butter flavor present in a pound cake made with a whole pound of butter  is a missing.

You know, my favorite part of my job are the neat ingredients I get to take home cause nobody else wants them... hello vanilla beans! Any whooo. So I added a vanilla bean to the milk part of the recipe and let it simmer. Oh it is sooo neat! I have never used a real vanilla bean! I tell you I think Miss Edna would approve!

This cake passed the ultimate taste test. I took it to work and by 1pm a mere sliver had survived. I of course took it home to see how well it "ages"... for my research.. er um...umhuh... yep- er- reee. To many of you having a cake or baked good disappear at work may not seem like much but I work with people who work with food for a living... food scientists! So I'm pretty sure Miss Edna's recipe does indeed make a Blue Ribbon Pound Cake - with room for tweaks! or as we say in the biz reformulation... 

here is the base recipe go forth and reformulate!

Miss Edna Faust's Blue Ribbon Pound Cake by Nancy McDermott

4 cups sifted AP flour- I used cake flour 1cup plus one tablespoon per cup AP flour, sifted first then measured... I REALLY need a scale!

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk - ok so I added a whole madagascar vanilla bean to this and scalded it on the stove. I let it cool to room temp before adding it to the cake mix.

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter softened

1 cup shortening - is this stuff necessary someone help!!!

3 cups sugar- I used super fine bakers sugar

6 eggs at room temperature

Your oven should be set to 300 fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan  or whatever suites your fancy!

Sift your dry ingredients and whisk them a bit until they are mixed well.

Ok get the Mixer ready! Cream your butter and shortening until light and creamy 3-5 minutes you wont over mix at this point so don't worry. Add the sugar gradually and mix mix mix at least 5 minutes on high. you want a light color and fluffy texture. keep mixing.... lower the speed to medium. now add one egg and mix for 2 minutes scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and mix some more. repeat with all your eggs. take a sip of your mint julep... oops wrong recipe.

Now remember that milk? put the vanilla extract in it. Don't forget to pull out that bean and scrape the pod for those tasty vanilla seeds! Get your flour mixture its  time to add it in... GENTLY! At this point I usually mix by hand with a wooden spoon or a spatula to avoid over mixing and exciting the gluten in the four. so add about 1/3 or your flour mixture and carefully fold it into the egg, sugar , butter, and other stuff until it just disappears. Add half of the milk vanilla mixture and GENTLY mix. okay more flour... careful... the rest of the milk and all of those little seeds... and finally the rest of the four mixture.

This is a lot of batter! pour it into your prepared baking pan and tap to remove large bubbles. place in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. This time was just about right for my cake but, you may want to check it sooner. If you notice the top is browning too quickly you can cover it with tin foil and continue baking. 

Good luck and let me know if you make this Blue Ribbon Pound Cake. Thanks Miss Edna!

Bourbon Pound Cake and Mint Juleps

I think I have found a new love! Simple, easy to transport, great with coffee in the morning or topped with fruit for a healthy snack, pound cake can do it all. I don't know how I overlooked this cake but now that i have found it I can NOT  stop researching recipes. So far I have made 2 of them both from the same book "Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations" by Nancy McDermott.
I can see how the search for the perfect pound cake can consume a person. I mean I have made two of these in a week and I am still searching out new recipes... Any of you have a favorite? Or some advice on recipes/ ingredients to avoid?
The first cake I made is a bourbon pound cake. Now, I don't usually drink booze. I do enjoy my hops but, bourbon? I don't know anything about it except that it sounded good in the cake title! So I have to wonder if I made a decent choice in my bourbon selection... I chose Ezra Brooks a sour mash bourbon. It was on sale and I liked the label. This is a really strong tasting bourbon, the sour notes do come through in the cake after a couple of days. The nice thing about baking with the bourbon was the lovely mint juleps I drank to fortify me while mixing the pound cake. My they are refreshing!
The cake came out moist/ light/ sweet but not cloying/ light vanilla and booze flavor but sour after taste due to the sour mash? / and a beautiful crumb with brown crust. Really just a lovely cake. But you know, it has shortening in it.. I'm not sure about this... is it necessary? cant I just up the butter and omit the shortening? lots of bakers swear by the stuff...
This cake was gobbled up by those who bore witness to its creation... so even with the sour mash and shortening I was the only one questioning if it was good enough.
If you would like the pound cake recipe  just let me know.
Mint Juleps off the interweb somewhere
Per julep cup:
2 jiggers of "good" bourbon
1t. confectioner's sugar, divided
6-8 sprigs of fresh mint
finely crushed ice

Place 3-4 sprigs of mint,1/2 t. of the confectioner's sugar, and just enough water to dissolve the sugar.
Crush the paste into the mint leaves.
Fill julep cup half full of crushed ice. Add remaining mint leaves, confectioner's sugar, and more ice to just about fill julep cup.
Pour bourbon over all until cup is full. Top with a final mint leaf.

Green Tea Lime bars

These are gooood! They are tart and sweet with an earthy undertone from the matcha (green tea powder). I made these in the morning and took them to a 4th of July party later that evening. I am happy to say they all disappeared way before the fireworks started!

I found the recipe on sophitimoms site and made some adjustments. The green tea is really subtle (undetectable) in this so if you really want the flavor to come forward increase the amount of matcha. I originally thought to add it to make the bars more green than yellow. I ended up with kind of an algae green... not the most appetizing but with a sprinkle of powdered sugar the bars looked great. I think you could add a little less matcha for a lighter green color if algae green doesn't work for you ;).

Green tea lime bars found on sophitimom's blog and adapted

For the crust:
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup (55g) powdered sugar
1 cup (150g) of unbleached all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups (330g) superfine sugar (or regular granulated)
3 eggs
2/3 cup (150g) freshly squeezed lime juice (from 4-5 limes)
2 tablespoons lime zest (from 4-5 limes)
2/3 cup (100g) unbleached, all-purpose flour (this is where I subbed the Matcha powder I replaced 1 tablespoon of flour with one tablespoon matcha... plenty of room to play around here!)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar for sprinkling on the top.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius). Line a 8×8″ * square baking pan with a strip of parchment paper (8×14″) that covers the bottom and overlaps on either side. (This is so after it cools, you can pull out the entire pan of lime bars and cut them neatly. You can omit this step completely, though. You don’t even need to butter the pan.)
2. Mix flour and sugar in a food processor. Put cut up butter and pulse until just incorporated. Press dough evenly into 8×8″ square baking pan.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. While it cools, prepare the filling.
4. Whisk all ingredients except for the confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl. Pour into crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is completely set. Let cool completely. (I help mine along in the freezer for about an hour.) Using the overlapping edges of parchment paper, gently lift the dessert from the pan. Cut into 16 squares. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Update 7/15/09: I just made this again last night (without the matcha) and ran into a couple of problems. So I just want to add some tips I learned! As soon as these have cooled remove them from the pan! I got tired and went to bed after pulling the bars out of the oven. It was not until I came home from work the next day that I was able to remove them from the pan and slice... The crust was soggy! and the middle of the bars were cakey. A combo of over baking the filling- I went the whole 35 minutes- and neglect. The taste is still amazing and I managed to eat several even with my mistakes ;). I found a cooks illustrated version for perfect lemon bars maybe I will give them a go!

Blueberry Pie

Happy Holidays to all of you! Summer is really here and the heat has really curbed my baking addiction. Here is a blueberry pie I made with fresh local berries picked over on Greenhill Road. The berries grown here are organic and super big and juicy! 

I plan to go tubing down the river and enjoy the summer weather. Hope you are all enjoying the holiday and warm weather!