I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of stuff done when I’m procrastinating.Important stuff, too, like baking three poundcakes.
When Francisco said, “It’s been a looong time since I’ve had poundcake. I really love it,” I said, “Oh, I’ll make that for you!”
I grabbed The Joy of Cooking and headed off to the kitchen.
Now making poundcake shouldn’t take long under normal circumstances. If you’re procrastinating, though, you can really be an exacting perfectionist and drag the process out to two hours. And if you don’t have a loaf pan (which you must have), then you can easily make this a four hour project.
The recipe below is 100% from The Joy of Cooking; I haven’t modified the ingredients at all. I haven’t modified the instructions much, either; I’ve just offered a few spots where you can take a bit more, um, care, in the preparation of the poundcake.
-2 cups of cake flour, resifted twice
-5 large eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
-1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
-1 teaspoon grated orange zest
-1/2 teaspoon ground mace (optional)
-1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
-1 1/3 cups sugar
-1/4 teaspoon salt
The surest way to be efficient is to check your fridge and cupboards to see if you have all the ingredients before starting. Obviously, I don’trecommend this. Rather, I suggest you wait until you actually start mixing to see what you have. I have a well-stocked kitchen, but I did not have cake flour, which was PERFECT. I had to make a cake flour substitute using these directions, which required numerous sifts.
Sifting, by the way, takes a lot of time if you don’t actually own a sifter. There’s no need to own one, really, not unless you’re a professional baker. You can sift your dry goods improvisationally; I like to use a fine mesh sieve and the back side of a wooden spoon.
There are two other things you should know as you’re getting started. First, your eggs and unsalted butter need to be at room temperature. If you didn’t read the recipe in full before you embarked on the cooking process, then rejoice! You’ve just extended your procrastination by a good 30-45 minutes. Take the eggs and butter out of the fridge and put them on the counter. Go to bed and read or snuggle with a loved one for 35 minutes before following the steps below.
[Intermission for reading and/or snuggling.]
Oh, right: the second thing you need to know.
You really DO need a loaf pan. Baking is unlike stir frying, which is to say: it doesn’t bear a lot of improvisation beyond the aforementioned sifting. If a recipe calls for using a loaf pan, you should use a loaf pan. Why? The type of pan you use affects the density of the finished product. So if you don’t have a loaf pan, you can easily squeeze one more hour out of this project because you need to go to the store for a loaf pan… or, as I did, go to the store for four loaf pans (mini loaf pans).
Now, if you’re in a relationship, you could send your other half in pursuit of the loaf pan. THAT would be the responsible thing to do. After all, he or she is probably a major distraction in your efforts to do productive writing. But if your goal is to procrastinate, then you should go yourself… or go together and spend some time debating the merits of mini loaf pans versus full-size loaf pans.
On to the prep work:
Now that you’re back home with all the ingredients and all the implements you’ll need to make pound cake, it’s time to get mixing. Before you do, though, go ahead and grease your loaf pan(s) and preheat your oven to 325^F.
Take all your wet and non-flour ingredients–except the butter–and whisk them together in a medium-sized bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat the 2 sticks of now pliable (but NOT soft) butter until they are creamy.
Slowly add the sugar and the salt to the butter, using a scraper or spatula to pull the batter away from the sides of the bowl. You’ll want to beat this on high speed for 3-5 minutes, according to Joy, or until your mix is lighter “in color and texture.”
Then, start to “gradually dribble in the egg mixture, about 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until light and fluffy.” This should take another 5 minutes.
Then, add the flour in 3 parts. Beat it on low speed; again, scrape the batter from the sides of the bowl. Once the batter is creamy and smooth, scrape it into your pan(s) and bake it for an hour.
If you’re extremely ambitious, make a glaze to pour on top of the poundcake once it’s done.