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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pound Cake

This recipe comes from the marvelous book Pie in the Sky:  Successful Baking at High Altitudes by Susan G. Purdy. Every recipe in the book was tested at five altitudes, including sea level. And each recipe is presented so you can succeed no matter in spite of the effects of air pressure, lower boiling point, etc. Here's a link for baking this cake at 5000 feet elevation. Although I have not baked this cake at sea level I have so much trust in Purdy's instructions that I'm posting it for readers who don't live at my elevation. For any reader who lives at 3000, 7000, or 10,000 feet I recommend you check the book out from your library.


Pound Cake (for sea level up to 2500 feet)

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

3 c sifted all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1 1/2 teas baking powder
8 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 teas cream of tartar
3/4 teas salt
3/4 c plus 2 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 center 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.  Avoid 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 and beat until you see tracks in the top of the mixture. Stop and check the whites. You are looking for something that is just beginning to stand in peaks, no droopiness. Don't overbeat. 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 (2 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 50-55 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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