Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marble Molasses Pound Cake

Marble Molasses Pound Cake - made October 20, 2010 from Southern Cakes (book #1)

My work dinner last night was unexpectedly canceled so I ended up with some baking time after all.  So I decided to start my baking challenge.  As mentioned earlier, I have a plethora of baking books, many of which are barely used or haven’t been used at all (yet).  And like a magpie amongst shiny objects, I continue to want to acquire more.  To curb this acquisitive disposition, I’m challenging myself to make at least one recipe from every single cookbook I own today before I can buy another one.  That “one” being Lisa Yockelson’s Bakingstyle book being released in August 2011.  I have over 200 baking books/cookbooks as of last count.  It might be more as I might’ve stopped counting once I reached 200 since it’s hard to be in denial when you actually have facts.  So that means I need to make over 200 recipes between now and August – eek.  Technically I can give myself longer since I don’t have to buy Bakingstyle right when it comes out.  But I want to.  So I’ll do my best to get there.
While I’ve already posted recipes from the books I’ve already used, I’m resetting to zero as of now.  That means even if I’ve already baked from a book, I still need to try a different recipe from it.  This isn’t about just using the books I’ve never baked from before but also utilizing more of the ones I’ve already used.  Otherwise it’d be too easy and by definition, a “challenge” shouldn’t be too easy.

This book has produced some good cake recipes.  I figured this would be a safe one to try and I needed it for a meeting today.  I’m not a big fan of molasses.  I don’t dislike it but I think a little of it goes a long way in terms of flavoring.  Marbling it with the rest of the cake seemed like a good way to go.  The main thing that surprised me with this cake is there’s no vanilla extract for flavoring.  I’m not sure why but if I ever make it again, I’d probably add a couple of teaspoons.  It couldn’t hurt.  The marbling of the molasses batter with the rest of the cake worked really well if you want that molasses flavoring without having it be too overwhelming.  The only thing I didn’t like was the texture of the cake had a dry mouthfeel.  Normally that would speak to overbaking but I took it out when the toothpick test just passed the raw batter stage.  It could be I used a smidge too much flour.  The recipe calls for 2 cups of sifted flour.  In my time-crunch, I didn’t sift the flour but just undercut the amount I used by a couple of tablespoons (old baker’s trick).  Maybe I should’ve used even less.  All in all, a decent cake but with the seemingly good choices in the rest of the cookbook, I don’t know if I’d make this one again.  The Brown Sugar Pound Cake recipe is better and has a better mouthfeel.

Marble Molasses Pound Cake
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons molasses or pure cane syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves

1.       Heat the oven to 350˚F.  Generously grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, line the bottom of the pan with waxed or parchment paper, and flour the pan.
2.      Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.
3.       In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat to combine the ingredients well.  Add the beaten eggs and continue mixing until the mixture is light, fluffy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  Stop several times to scrape down the bowl.
4.      Add about a third of the flour mixture, and then about half of the milk, beating at low speed after each addition just long enough to make the flour or the milk disappear into the batter.  Mix in another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and then the last of the flour in the same way.
5.      Scoop out about a third of the batter into a medium bowl, and add the molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves.  Stir with a wooden spoon or fork to mix everything into the batter well.
6.      Quickly add both batters to the pan, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, alternating between the plain and spiced batters.  Run a table knife through the batter in a figure-eight pattern to swirl the batters together.  Bake at 350˚F for about 1 hour, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly at the center, and until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
7.      Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel for about 10 minutes.  Use a table knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan.  Then turn out the cake onto a wire rack or a plate, remove the paper carefully and cool completely, top side up.

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