Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Growing up, my mom had a drawer filled with recipes that were handed down through the generations. In that drawer were recipes for her heavenly cheesecake, a neighbor's carrot cake and the most superb pound cake I've ever tasted. Like any good mom, mine lent me that pound cake recipe and I wish I could tell you that is what I'm going to give you here.

However, I lost it.

I know... I'm the worst and, trust me, I have apologized. My ever-gracious mother assured me it was fine. But I wasn't going to let something so precious go so easily. I went on the hunt for a pound cake recipe that could rival our heirloom recipe and didn't stop until I found it.

The Best American Recipes 2000 seems to have been dropped into my cookbook library by my fairy godmother. Perhaps she knew how terrible I felt about this loss. (I know I sound dramatic, but this was serious!) I don't remember buying it and I don't know who may have given it to me but it has the most spectacular recipe for pound cake and it is really close to the one my mother had. With a few tweaks, I've made it pretty identical.

If you like rich, vanilla-y, buttery cake that's so versatile that it can be eaten warm with chocolate sauce, room temp with traditional frosting or cold (maybe dollop a little lemon curd or jam on top) with a nice cup of tea, this is it.

One note: if you don't think an entire bundt cake will be consumed in your house, this cake my be baked in 2 loaf pans. After baking, wrap one loaf tightly in plastic wrap, drop it into a freezer bag and freeze it for up to 6 months. When an unexpected guest or celebration or break up occurs, you'll be well prepared!

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake
1 C unsalted butter
3 C flour
3 C sugar
6 large or extra large eggs
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C sour cream (full fat)
2 T vanilla bean paste
1/2 t almond extract

Yield: one tube or bundt cake

Oven to 325. Butter and flour a bundt or tube cake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating fully before adding the next.

In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients.

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream. Stir in the vanilla bean paste and almond extract.

Pour the batter into the pan and, using a spatula, evenly distribute it.
Bake at 325 for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (It can take up to 1 hour, 15 minutes at 325.)
 Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and invert onto a baking rack to continue cooling.
Once the cake is cool, slice it up and add your toppings. I went with vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate sauce and strawberries and ice cream this time.
The scent of vanilla plus the faint almond taste make this cake delicious, but it's the sour cream and butter that give it body and its silky crumb. It's as delicious as I remember the cake I made using that recipe from the sacred drawer. Even my mom has said this one is very near the heirloom recipe, which, if you tasted my mom's baking and knew her standards, you'd know is the ultimate blessing.

One last thought. This may seem like a lot of work, but this recipe and the way it combines the ingredients is sooooo simple that I'm pretty sure it's close to foolproof. But, don't take my word for it. Bake this one and let me know how it turns out. 

Happy weekend!



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