I don’t bake much any more. And during a lockdown I can’t even give the baked goods to very many people. But I also have a bunch of ingredients that need to be used… so here’s the vanilla pound cake I made the other day.
Vanilla pound cake
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk (you can use milk substitutes; I used coconut milk)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I also threw in a dash of vanilla bean powder)
Heat oven to 170c/325F. Grease and flour your loaf pan.
Sift the flour and add the baking powder.
Cream the butter and sugar for several minutes.
Slowly add the beaten eggs on low speed. Add the vanilla extract once mixed.
Add half the milk, mix. Then mix in half of the flour, keeping the mixer on a slow speed. Add the remaining milk and fold in the rest of the flour until combined.
Put mixture in prepared loaf tin. Bake for about 1 hour. Use a toothpick in the middle to check its doneness; when it comes out clean, it’s ready to take out. Cool in the pan for ten minutes; remove from pan and let cool.
Nearing the end of my tenure as enthusiastic amateur baker (I remain forever an amateur but not enthusiastic any longer), I am using up ingredients I have on hand. I am also thinking about the “fruity cake” my friend Esteban and I have been joking about forever.
2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
2 cups (414g) sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) milk
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup (240ml) water (this is what the original recipe called for but I used about half this amount)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and prepare three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper in the bottom. (The original recipe called for non-stick spray and parchment. I went with the old-fashioned grease and flour. I experienced absolutely no problems with this cake sticking to my pans even though the original recipe said that there is a tendency for the recipe to stick.)
2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
3. Add the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and eggs to a medium-sized bowl and combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
5. Slowly add the water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
6. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and bake for 24-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
7. Remove the cakes from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Mixed berry filling
1 1/2 cup (240g) mixed berries (I used a frozen selection of strawberries, raspberries and …? I can’t recall. I threw in a few frozen blueberries as well. No idea if it is okay or not! Lab rats to the rescue…)
3 tablespoons (45ml) water
3/4 cup (155g) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
8. To make the berry topping, add the berries and water to a food processor and puree until smooth. You should end up with about 2/3 cup puree.
9. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in the berry puree.
10. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 8-10 minutes.
11. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Refrigerate and allow to cool completely.
12. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
13. Add the mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form. It will happen fairly quickly. Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.
Put it all together
These are the instructions from the original recipe – I did it a bit differently. You can of course decide what works for you.
14. To assemble the cake, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes.
15. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Pipe a dam of frosting around the outside of the cake. I use Ateco tip 808 for the dam so that it’s tall.
16. Spread half of the berry filling evenly on top of the cake layer, inside the dam. It should fill the dam about half way full.
17. Add some additional mascarpone frosting to the top of the berry filling and spread into an even layer to fill in the remaining dam space.
18. Add the second layer of cake and repeat the filling layer with the remaining berry filling and additional mascarpone frosting.
19. Add the final layer of cake on top, then smooth out the frosting around the sides of the cake.
20. Frost the outside of the cake.
21. Finish off the cake with some swirls of frosting and fresh berries.
22. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Cake is best for 2-3 days.