So wine week didn’t exactly go as planned – sometimes things happen. I was going to follow up cooking with wine week with updates to my wines page, but this weekend we are getting some much needed rain here in northern California. It has been raining for two days and it looks like the whole weekend will be rainy and soggy so my thoughts turned to comfort food instead – specifically updating some classic recipes that I have used for many years with some of the great new ingredients that are available today with a few clicks of the mouse.
This blog is named berries and cocoa because they are my two favorite ingredients to bake with. I am always searching for better quality ingredients to improve upon old favorites. Twenty years ago Hershey’s baking cocoa was most readily available to the home cook in the supermarket, and most home cooks used it – but professional chefs had their secrets. I found one on Amazon this month: Rodelle Dutch Process Dark Cocoa.
The new dutch process dark cocoas today are amazing – and this is just one of them. Try this the next time you are baking – along with the pure vanilla bean paste I told you about in November – I think you will notice a definite difference in your recipies.
Traditionally pound cake was made with a pound of each of these four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs and sugar. The first recorded recipie dates back to Northern Europe in the late 1700’s, but the basic recipe can be found in cookbooks in France, Germany, Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela. This recipe is most popular in the American South in its tradidtional form, but there are literally hundreds of variations with sour cream and lemon being the most popular. I’ve also added a few tips to make your cake even better:
* when you cream the sugar and butter, beat until very light and fluffy – it takes a good five minutes to get the right consistency. Make sure the butter is at room temperature for best results.
*to “marbleize”, use a large metal spoon to cut through the batters in a wide zigzag – go around only once so the batters won’t mix.
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dutch process dark cocoa
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 10 inch tube pan with nonstick flour based spray. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, mix sugar and butter until well blended. Beat on high speed for five minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add all remaining ingredients except cocoa powder. Beat until thoroughly blended, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Increase speed to high and beat 4-5 minutes longer, mixing thoroughly.
Remove a scant three cups of the batter and transfer to a small bowl. Using a wire whisk, beat cocoa into batter until well blended. Spoon a 1 inch layer of the vanilla batter onto bottom of the cake pan, then drop dollops of the chocolate batter over top, as shown. Repeat with another layer of the vanilla, then use the remaining chocolate batter to drop chocolate dollops over top of vanilla batter. With a large metal spoon, cut and twist through batter in a zigzag pattern only once to achieve the marbled effect.
Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Use a spatula or icing knife to loosen cake from pan. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack. This makes a really big cake so you can freeze half – but it is so good that it usually disappears in a couple of days.