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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

High Altitude Pound Cake

This is the best pound cake I've ever eaten; it would have to be with all those eggs. If you want a superior cake with fine texture, consider making this. But be prepared for it to take a little time and dirty a few dishes.


High Altitude Pound Cake (5000 ft) 

Source:  Pie in the Sky:  Successful Baking at High Altitudes by Susan G. Purdy
Serves 12-16, depending on how you slice it

I believe this recipe will work for elevations from 4000-5500 feet. For a sea level recipe please see "Pound Cake" and for other elevations consider borrowing the book from the library. It can really help you succeed when baking.

3 c plus 1 T sifted all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1 1/2 teas baking powder
9 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 teas cream of tartar
3/4 teas salt
3/4 c plus 1 3/4 c granulated sugar, divided
 3/4 pd unsalted butter (3 sticks) at room temperature
1 c sour cream
1 T vanilla
2 teas lemon or almond extract or 1 teas each
3 T brandy or rum

Place the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375F. Coat a 10-inch (12-16 cup) plain tube pan (angle food cake pan) with nonstick spray or butter.  Don't use a bundt pan. 

In a bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together. Place to the side.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer. Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat until foamy. Then gradually pour in the 3/4 c of sugar and increase the speed to high. Watch closely. At this altitude you don't want the eggs to get to the stiff point. Beat until you see tracks in the top of the mixture. Stop and check the whites. You are looking for something that holds together but the peaks are droopy. The mixture should also be smooth and shiny. Set this aside as well. If you need your bowl for the remainder of the recipe, put the mixture into another bowl.

In a large bowl (5 quart or larger) place the butter and the remaining sugar (1 3/4 c) and cream together, scraping down the bowl and beaters. Cream until well blended. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and other flavorings, and the brandy or rum. Mix until combined and add the egg yolks 2 at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix a couple more minutes. If the batter looks curdled, don't be surprised. It is fine.

Lightly stir in approximately 2 cups of  the egg white mixture into the creamed butter and sugar to lighten the mix. In 5 or 6  alternating additions, fold in the flour mixture and the remaining egg white mixture. A long handled rubber spatula is good for this job since you'll have quite a bit of batter by now. Fold until you have a creamy, thick batter and you no longer see streaks of flour. With a light hand, scrape along the bottom to ensure you've mixed everything in. 

Place the batter into the prepared tube pan. Use a knife or a thin spatula to run through the batter to remove any air pockets, but be sure to avoid the sides and bottom of the pan. Smooth the top and place into the oven. 

After about 30 minutes of baking, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top, shiny side down; this will keep the top from getting too brown. Continue to bake for a total of 45-50 minutes until the top is golden and has a few cracks. It should be springy to the touch and if you use a tester (or a toothpick) it should come out with a few crumbs, nothing wet. 

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes. Then use a knife to carefully run around the sides of the pan and the tube. Invert the cake onto a plate and invert again onto a cake platter or another plate, so the top is up. Allow to cool completely. 

The author of this recipe recommends you wait until the next day to eat it for best flavor and slicing; but she points out it is difficult to wait that long. 

This cake is wonderful served with berries, fruits in simple syrup, berry coulis, lemon curd, or whipped cream. 

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