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Food: There’s No Crying In Baked Goods

June 21, 2011

I majored in English, yet I suck at scrabble.
Despite my ample height, I can’t play basketball to save my life.
I am the proud owner of an MBA, though often forget what the D and A stand for in EBITDA.
The majority of reality tv turns my stomach, but I watch The Next Food Network Star.

These are (a few of) my secret shames. I hope you can still accept me.

Unfortunately, the secret shame of Next Food Network Star contestant Alicia Sanchez became her downfall last Sunday, when her inability to handle stress, control her tears, or remember a basic cupcake recipe led to her dismissal from the show, just three episodes in. I won’t comment on her stress issues, though watching her cry every fifteen minutes turned that beautiful woman into a troll, but I’m puzzled by her recall problem. Everyone knows I’m not a great baker, but once I make something a few times, I can at least remember the recipe. Alicia apparently has a degree in “Pastry and Baking Arts” and runs a bakery specializing in cakes and cupcakes, yet she couldn’t conjure up a reasonable list of ingredients for lemon-scented cupcakes?

I’m sure being on camera adds another level of stress to anything, but I’ve now baked 4 pound cakes and I feel pretty secure in my ability to make them without a recipe. Much like cupcakes, they follow the same basic paradigm: relatively  equal parts flour and sugar, butter, eggs, salt, and vanilla.  To illustrate my point, which I guess is that Alicia is an over-emotional idiot, here are two recipes for pound cake. Both were recreated from memory but checked for accuracy, so you can use them without fear. The first uses cream cheese, which adds a richness to the flavor but doesn’t taste at all like cream cheese, and wins the award for Best Tasting Batter, hands down. The second is a “light” version, adapted from Cooking Light Comfort Foods, which uses fewer eggs and less butter. Of all of my cakes so far, I’d say the Sour Cream Pound Cake with Rum Glaze is the best. And I promise it won’t make you cry.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
3 sticks unsalted butter
6 eggs
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 package full fat cream cheese
3 tsp vanilla (or almond) extract
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325. Aggressively butter and flour your pan. Beat the butter and cream cheese together, then slowly add sugar and beat until mixture is light and frothy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add salt and vanilla. Whisk in flour in three additions, then pour into your pan. Tap pan lightly on the counter (so mixture will settle). Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool, dust with powdered sugar. Voila.


Sour Cream Pound Cake with Rum Glaze
3 cups flour
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup 1%  milk
1 cup light sour cream
1 tbsp spiced rum
2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp spiced rum
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350. Aggressively butter and flour your pan. Beat butter and sugar together, then add eggs, one at a time. Add milk, rum, salt, and vanilla, beat until incorporated. Add flour and sour cream to sugar mixture in several additions, starting and ending with flour. Whisk each addition just until combined, pour mixture in pan. Tap pan lightly on the counter (so mixture will settle). Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Glaze: Ten minutes before cake is done, prepare glaze. Mix together rum, water, and sugar in a small pan. Bring to a boil, add butter, stir until melted. Remove from heat, let cool slightly. Remove cake from oven, cool 10 minutes. Drizzle half of the warm glaze over cake.  Let cake cool 45 more minutes, gently reheat glaze and drizzle remaining glaze over cake. Voila.

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