High Altitude Baking: Food processor vanilla pound cake (recipe)
High Country Baking
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Dessert insurance, that’s how I view pound cake. With one in the freezer, you’re ready for anything. Serve it toasted or plain, with ice cream, sorbet, fruit and sauces or cube it and layer it in stemmed glasses with berries, lemon curd, preserves or pudding. It’s 100 desserts in one — just use your imagination.
This is my favorite recipe for a classic vanilla pound cake. It produces one that’s tender, flavorful and light, very much like the famous commercial one created by Sara Lee. And, believe it or not, it’s made in a food processor! No more seemingly endless creaming and beating; this is oven-ready in about 10 minutes and always leaves me feeling like I got away with something. Just be careful not to over-process the batter.
Food Processor Vanilla Pound Cake
(Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 and higher. Make in a 6-cup Bundt pan, preferably nonstick, or two 3-cup loaf pans.)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon bleached, all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup minus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
½ cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center position. Generously grease the Bundt pan with a vegetable oil-flour spray. If using loaf pans, line them with foil, letting it extend several inches beyond the two opposing long sides to use as handles when removing the baked cakes. Grease the pans, including the foil. Set them aside.
Combine the flour, nonfat dry milk, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a bowl, and whisk vigorously to combine. Set aside.
In a large measuring cup or a bowl with a spout, whisk the corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla and the three eggs. Set aside.
Put the sugar in the food processor, and process for 30 to 45 seconds until pulverized. Cut the butter into 16 pieces, add them to the bowl and pulse until fluffy and light in color, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
With the machine running, slowly add the corn syrup-juice-vanilla-egg mixture, blending until smooth. Scrape the sides of the processor bowl several times while blending.
Stop the machine. In four additions, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, pulsing after each addition only until the batter is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling it/them no more than half full; level and smooth the top, and rap the pan on a counter to eliminate any air bubbles.
Bake until the top of the cake is light golden and springs back when touched. Start checking at 45 minutes (less for the smaller loaf pans). Remove to a rack, cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then invert and remove the Bundt pan or lift out of the loaf pans by the pan’s liner. Let the cake cool completely on a rack before serving, or wrap airtight and freeze for up to a month.
This is an adaptation of a recipe in “The Best of Better Baking.com.” Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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