Friday, May 28, 2010

Honey and vanilla pound cake

Sometimes a cake just calls to me, and no matter how busy I am or what I've got to get done, baking and eating said cake moves to the top of the list.

Of course, boring old life, like work and errands, can sometimes thwart the best of intentions. I started thinking about this honey and vanilla pound cake on Tuesday and didn't get around to it until today. See, I've actually been busy...working. Good grief! I guess a part of me idiotically envisioned working for myself as having an endless series of weekends piled on top of each other. Taking leisurely swims, poking around the farmer's market, finally cleaning out the hall closet. (I guess I mixed up working for yourself with being a kept woman.) It turns out, when you don't have a steady paycheck coming in, all of a sudden you're a much harder worker. And things like cakes and cookies have to take a back seat.

Not for long, though. After I got through a big project for the week, I was able to focus on important things, like softening the butter and making sure I had good vanilla in the pantry.

Like most of Ina's recipes, this one is simple, rich, and satisfying. Also like most her recipes, it's best not to dwell too long on the ingredients: the fact that this smallish loaf contained two sticks of butter, more than a cup of sugar, and four eggs made me hesitate momentarily in my tracks. After a few days of eating decadently (the way everyone should when they are on vacation), I wondered if I ought to be putting my efforts toward something more austere. But then I couldn't think of anything healthy to make that sounded remotely as wonderful as this pound cake, which I envisioned golden, delicate, and perfumed with my favorite scents: lemon, honey, and vanilla.

Sure enough, when the cake emerged from the oven, I knew I had made the right choice. Doesn't it look homey and inviting?

The recipe suggests you let it cool until, well, cool. I'm a free thinker, though, and so after a very brief wait, I sliced off a thick piece. There's no rule against warm cake in my house; in fact the rule is: eat it.

The cake was delicious and moist, with a tender crumb and a perfect, ever so crisp crust.

I wouldn't say this cake is overly endowed with the flavors in its name, though. If I were going to make it again (and I will), I might add more honey and more vanilla. My version tasted of lemon, if anything, but that may be because lemon zest is one of the things I don't measure, along with minced garlic and grated parmesan. So the recipe called for a teaspoon and I probably added two.

One of the many nice things about a simple pound cake is that it can be delightful on its own, or it can fill out another dessert. I can see making this for guests and serving it with ice cream or sorbet, or even using it in a trifle if you were so inclined. I also plan to eat it for breakfast tomorrow. I'm pretty sure that in the breakdown of cake categories (dessert/snack/breakfast), pound cake can be justified on all occasions. At least that's the way I'm looking at it.


  1. Oh, HD, does this look good! That closeup is just unfair--I can't bite my monitor! The crumb on that looks perfect, though. The crust too! It's the butter. I just KNOW it's the butter.

  2. You were right - if you need a break from all that working, you can't go wrong with a beautiful pound cake. I'd love for Ina to be my neighbor and be able to pop over to her house for treats all the time. Instead, I'll have to make all these recipes myself, I guess. On second thought, her husband creeps me out so I guess it's just as well. I digress. teehee
    Lovely pound cake!

  3. Cake is always an appropriate breakfast. (Says the girl who has eaten more breakfast cookies than anyone should.)

  4. I was addicted to pound cake as a little kid, (mostly Sara Lee I must admit), until I baked my first loaf out of some colonial cookbook in my teens. Yours looks perfect, and you're absolutely right, pound cake can be justified on all occasions!

  5. ina would call this fabulous, and i would agree. i love cakes that are great vehicles for other dessert-like things but also tasty enough on their own.

  6. Kate: thanks! And yes, I think the butter is the key to this baby.

    oneordinaryday: If I lived next door to Ina Garten it would not only be great because I could eat her food but it would mean I was super rich. Her house is unreal. I actually like her husband but he is a little...hobbity.

    camille: I figured that would be a popular stand.

    Connie: I loved the Sara Lee cake too! In fact I'm sure I still would.

    grace: I'm thinking about a big scoop of ice cream on this cake. A big scoop of ice cream never hurt anyone, right?

  7. There's always time to bake a cake in this household too...just made a cornmeal pound cake and smothered it with NJ strawberries and whipped cream. A close second to Grandma Ella's shortcake, if I do say so myself.

  8. I just made carrot muffins (muffins because no frosting) with oil, whole wheat flour, walnuts and, of course, carrots. Trying for a healthful cake, which I now think is an oxymoron. They were tasty but I don't know if they truly satisfied the cake craving because that photo of your Ina cake looks more appetizing than what I have here in person!! Yumm. - Pete

  9. I never measure lemon zest too! I love everything about it, and so far more has always been better for me.

  10. I've been looking for a pound cake recipe! This sound great!

  11. Jary: I like the sounds of that cake, can you send me the recipe?

    Pete: I'm sure your carrot muffins (cake?) would be just as good as this pound cake, in truth. More texture.

    Jessica: I just zest a whole lemon no matter what the recipe calls for!

    thedabble: Give it a try!

  12. This looks so good, I'm going to make it for dessert tonight, and serve it with some muddled blackberry post-dinner drinks. My arteries are a little scared of the butter content, but if I share with 4 others, I shouldn't be in too much danger!

  13. There's nothing like a pound cake. It works with everything. Ice cream. Fruit. Chocolate sauce. And it freezes like a dream.
    Much as I would probably love yours, my mother made one with 7Up that I have been making for years. It serves a ton of people and is the perfect answer to take for housebound people...

  14. I bet the honey in it makes it really moist and gives it a lovely flavor. We never tire of pound cake, no matter how many other fancy-schmanzy cakes tempt us. Simple and classic just never go out of style.

  15. Ash: how did it turn out? And tell me more about the muddled blackberry drinks!!

    Barbara: Ah, freezing, what a good idea! Next time maybe I'll make two. Is the 7up cake on your blog?

    CJ: Yes, the honey is nice, although very subtle. Next time I'll up the amount.

  16. Yum! That looks heavenly! A good breakfast food for sure.

  17. I used to love pound cake as a kid, but haven't eaten one in years because I found it they actually put a pound of butter in a pound cake. While I don't make them or buy a whole pound cake, I do look for the occasional slice. :)

  18. tamilyn: thank you! yes, it was good indeed for breakfast...

    Ben: I know, it's hard to get past some of the statistics for this dessert. Always good to share things like this with friends and neighbors!