Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chocolate Pound Cake


About a week ago, I bought a book that I've been wanting for quite some time now: I'm Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown. It's about all the hows and whys of baking from a scientific perspective. I have never, ever (ever) been interested in science, but I was fascinated by this book. It is so helpful to actually understand the reason behind every step of the baking process, and I'm sure that I am going to be more successful in my baking endeavors from now on.

The book also includes quite a few recipes, including the Chocolate Pound Cake recipe I made today. I really like that the recipes include measurements by weight (in addition to volume) and are categorized by mixing method. Each mixing method is written on a little flap at the beginning of each section, so you can fold it over the page of any recipe in that section. Genius!

This pound cake was delicious, which is not surprising considering every recipe I have tried from Alton Brown has been a success. The chocolate flavor was subtle, and the texture was perfectly soft and moist. In fact, after I tasted it I wished I hadn't frosted it at all. What?! These are words I never thought I would say. After all, frosting is the proverbial (not to mention literal) icing on the cake. However, the chocolate glaze I used didn't really add anything, and I thought it was actually too chocolatey. I guess that will teach me to taste my baked goods before I pour chocolate all over them! 

Chocolate Pound Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

2. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.

3. Assemble the batter via the creaming method, alternating additions of the flour/cocoa mixture with the milk. Given the amounts involved, start with dry and end with dry.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the internal temperature hits 212˚F, or the cake leaves the sides of the pan.

5. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool thoroughly. It will keep, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for 1 week.

Creaming Method:

1. Scale or measure all ingredients. Fats should be pliable but solid (no sign of melting). If kitchen temp is over 70˚F, chill the mixing bowl.

2. Combine all Dry Goods (except sugar) by pulsing in food processor.

3. In a small bowl, beat eggs together along with any extracts.

4. Using a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, on medium speed:
  • Mix the fat(s) alone for a minute to spread them around the bowl.
  • Add sugar(s) slowly and beat until mixture lightens noticeably in texture and increases slightly in volume.
5. Reduce the speed to "stir" and add the eggs very slowly, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

6. Work in the Dry Goods in three installments alternating with any additional liquids, such as milk. Always start with the dry ingredients and finish with the wet for a smoother batter.

7. Stir in any bits and/or pieces (chocolate chips, nuts, etc.).

8. Bake according to the recipe's instructions.

Source:
Brown, Alton. "Chocolate Pound Cake." Recipe. I'm Just Here for More Food. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004. 208-9.

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