Monday, March 22, 2010

Week Eight: Poundish Cake

A few weeks back, after making Black-and-White Brownies a couple of times, I began to ponder rejiggering them into cake. The ingredients seemed right, the vanilla portion of the brownies was very cakey, and the other human member of the household had been asking for cake for days on end. Sadly for him, his cake craving hit on the Monday of the week I was leaving town on Wednesday for a funeral.

My Monday and Tuesday evenings were occupied with confirming flights, figuring out what to wear, and performing the heinous algebra and geometry of the quart-size Ziploc bag. When the hubs occasionally brought up the topic of cake, I would make a vague and desperate gesture toward the second floor, whence my wardrobe and toiletry woes taunted me, and/or roll my eyes.

On Wednesday morning I woke up at 4 a.m., not completely awake, but alert enough that I knew there was no sleep in my immediate future. I was fully packed, except for the remaining bits of makeup and creams I would use that morning. Feeding and walking the dogs, as much as I whine about it, does not take very long. And we wouldn’t be leaving the house for four hours.

Determined to thumb my nose at the ridiculous situation, I decided to take a stab at making a cake from the brownie recipe. Once I started measuring and mixing, I realized this was what I had wanted to do all along, every minute I’d been doing laundry and fretting over how my dresses fit (or don’t). Beyond the usual comfort of cooking, I savored the knowledge that this cake would make my husband happy during my absence.

I made a few major modifications to the original recipe: I left out the chocolate, increased the flour to 3/4 cup, added a bit of milk, reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup, and creamed the butter with the sugar instead of melting it – which underscored that fact that I will need a stand mixer at some point in my life if I am to be at all serious about this cooking thing.

When it was cool enough to taste, the straightforward vanilla flavor and dense crumb reminded me a bit of the Sara Lee pound cakes we would get sometimes when I was growing up. We’d put sugared strawberries and freshly whipped cream over slices of it and call it strawberry shortcake. This cake would be perfect for that, or whatever else you felt like putting on top.

Deliciousness: This cake elemental in its simple, comforting tastiness.

Difficulty: None to speak of, unless like me you do not own a stand mixer.

Do-Over: Yep.


5 T. butter, room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. flour (I think I used cake flour)

1/2 c. milk (I used skim)

1 t. vanilla

2 eggs

Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8” x 8” pan (I use Pam). Cream butter and sugar until very smooth. Add eggs, milk and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add salt and mix flour in slowly. Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden on top and/or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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