I am just having so much fun with all of this flour!  Every day is just a new reason to make or bake something.

I’m still doing my experiments and I’m still working on The Classics.  I do think that a products true quality lies in how simply it can be used.  And simplicity really is the key.  I’ve heard that French restaurants will test a prospective cook by making them roast a chicken.  If you can’t do the basics well, you’ll never be able to master the complex.

So back out came Baking With Julia.  I really liked the series when it ran on PBS and the recipes are written well.  Not to mention the variety of recipes – from pound cake to wedding cake – and so much more.

I followed the recipe as written except I played with the flour.  It calls for 3 cups of all-purpose flour  so I used 11 ounces (about 2.25 cups) of Daisy pastry flour and  5.5 ounces (1.125 cups) of Daisy bread flour.  There is a bit of an adjustment for using the Daisy flour by volume.  I also used Irish butter, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, and organic eggs.  What the hell.  Quality In – Quality Out.

My ratio was perfect.  The cake was moist with a rich buttery-vanilla flavor.  The kind of flavor that could have one sneaking into the kitchen to keep slicing off thin wedges – over-and-over.  Just dense enough without being too heavy and a perfectly browned – and tender – crust.

I really could eat this one all night.

A few hints… Make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature and you sift your flour.  Also, take the time the recipe calls for.  Whip the butter and sugar for 5 minutes. Take a full four minutes to add the eggs.  It really does make a difference.  Cooking is an art and baking is a science.  You really do need the proper ratio of tenderizers (sugar and butter) to proteins (flour and eggs) and you need to take the time to properly emulsify the butter, sugar, and eggs before adding the milk and flour.  It really will make a huge difference.

Vanilla Pound Cake

From Baking with Julia

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, whisked to blend
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan or other 12-cup decorative pan with a center tube.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper; reserve.

Put the butter into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work with a hand-held mixer) and beat at medium speed until smooth. With the machine running, add the sugar in a steady stream. Stop the machine and scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue to beat at medium speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.

With the mixer still at medium speed, begin to add the eggs in small additions, about a tablespoon at a time. If the mixture becomes watery or shiny, stop adding the eggs and beat at an increased speed just until it smooths out. When the batter has come together again, decrease the speed to medium and continue adding the eggs, scraping down the paddle and sides of the bowl from time to time; it will take 3 to 4 minutes to incorporate the eggs. The mixture is properly combined when it appears white, fluffy and increased in volume.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the milk alternating-4 additions of flour, 3 of milk-scrapping the paddle and bowl frequently and mixing until the batter is smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix just to blend

Baking the cake. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a rack, remove the pan, and cool to room temperature. The cake is best served in very thin slices.

Storing. The cake can be covered at room temperature for about 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Keep in mind that stale pound cake is excellent lightly toasted and used as the based for ice cream sundaes.

I don’t think this cake will be around long enough to have to think of freezing any of it.