Sunday, September 23, 2007

Foodie Blogroll

and Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pound Cake

I joined the Foodie Blogroll last week. The blog roll is a great, free (as in no-fee) way to network among bloggers who love food and blog about their love of food. In fact, many of the sites I go to on a regular basis are already members. The blog is run by Jen, who makes masterpieces out of left overs. Members can even participate in monthly food jousts where one tries to create something spectacular with three ingredients chosen by previous winners. This month, it's white chocolate, lavender, and pears. Check the link to the Foodie Blogroll on the right and come join us!

Today, I tried Rose Levy Beranbaum's pound cake:

The recipe can be found on and a lemon poppy seed variation can be found on Ms Beranbaum's website.

I'm close to couple decades tardy in discovering Ms Beranbaum's highly regarded cookbook, The Cake Bible. Every other cake author I've read has referenced her in some way, and I've leafed through The Cake Bible at bookstores and libraries before but it isn't until a week ago that I finally bought it.

Ms Beranbaum's claim to fame is her use of the two-stage method in mixing cake batters. Also called the one-bowl method, this manner of mixing begins with combining all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then moistening this mixture with butter and some liquid, followed by a minute or so of beating and the addition of more liquid.

It rose exactly as high as Ms Beranbaum said it would: 2.5" on the sides and 3.5" in the middle. The split occurred naturally, and for those who value a more precise split, Ms Beranbaum suggests taking a sharp buttered blade or knife to cut a six-inch slit down the middle of the batter 20 minutes into the baking time.

The mixing method produces a silken batter, which tastes good. At first, I found it odd that I am beating the batter long after the liquid and the flour have been added together. This is a stark contrast to the creaming method where I take extreme care not to over beat the batter. The addition of butter into the flour deters the formation of gluten, that boon to bread-making and bane of cake-bakers.

The pound cake looks rustic on the outside, but has a luxurious, velvety texture. The crumb is very fine. However, it also tastes like it could be a touch sweeter. I do wonder if people in the '80s - the cookbook was written in 1988 - had less of a sweet tooth. When I bake from the 1975 Joy of Cooking, I always notice how distinctly non-sweet the cakes and pastries are, and have been told that people were less of sugar junkies in the past.

I cut the cake right after it cooled so I can examine it, but it's best to ripen pound cakes for at least a day for best flavour.

My curiosity is piqued. Before, I was certain that the creaming method produced the most tender cakes. Now, I'm not so sure....


jeena said...

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Jeena xx

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Erika of Sweet Pea Blog said...

Hi, I am a new reader to your blog(found you on Jeena's site), and I must say for an 'occasional baker' you make wonderful cakes. I especially like the génoise with mango butter cream - the swirl effect of the icing is lovely. Please drop by my blog and say hi :)

Julie said...

Your pound cake looks delicious! I have Beranbaum's, too! I use Beranbaum's versatile yellow cake recipe a lot (I forgot the exact name, but I remember it's long). It's consistent and tasty, and it looks really good. The first time I made it is here. I agree that her recipes aren't usually as sweet as other cake recipes these days, but they work really well with tasty fillings and frostings that way.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That's a great looking cake! Absolutely gorgeous!
I've just discovered your blog and like it a lot! You are also welcome to visit mine :-D...



Willow said...

Re: the sweetness factor. I grew up in the 50's and 60's. I can't eat one of the gourmet cookies at the mall because they are so sweet I could gag. I use a recipe from a 1940's cookbook, and it will give me a crisp (not limp) cookie that's not-too-sweet. A nice little bite, back from the time where nobody worried about kids bouncing off the walls from having sweets.