Monday, September 27, 2010

(Mis)Adventures in Baking...Lemon-Glazed Pound Cake

As I’ve mentioned in here on numerous occasions, I don’t bake that much…with good reason! Oh, I have a sweet tooth for sure…it’s no coincidence that my brother-in-law’s nickname for me is Cookie!! When I DO make a dessert, it’s most likely going to be something like ice cream, a fruit crisp, or a no-bake pie. Otherwise, it’s easier to let a bakery do all the work for me and concentrate on the rest of the meal. However, I recently vowed to use this blog as a way to force me outside of my cooking comfort zone…so I try my hand at baking once in a while.

I found two great Barefoot Contessa pound cake recipes when planning this Saturday’s citrus-themed dinner menu. I couldn’t make up my mind which one to try, so I decided to take the best components of both recipes and combine them into one amazing cake! I baked Ina’s Vanilla-Honey Pound Cake, but used the lemon simple syrup and lemon glaze from her
Lemon-Yogurt Cake. The end result was FANTASTIC…a little tart, a little sweet, with a great texture. However, much hilarity ensued while actually getting from Point A (the baking) to Point B (eating the cake)!!

I have issues with exact measurements in cooking, but I know that it’s vital when it comes to baking. So, I carefully measured all the ingredients I needed and had everything ready to go before setting up my Kitchen Aid. I followed the recipe directions to. the. letter…go me! When it came time to add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients? That’s when Mishap #1 happened. I thought I was moving the little lever on the mixer toward the off position as I raised the paddle up to add the dry ingredients…but I turned it up instead!! I have fairly quick reflexes, but not quick enough. Needless to say…my face, hair, and tee shirt were covered in splatters of cake batter!

Truthfully? I was just thankful that the batter was only on me, and not all over my kitchen (…and that Michael wasn’t home to witness the entire spectacle)!! I quickly ran to the bathroom and promptly had a good laugh at the batter-splattered reflection that was staring back at me. I looked like the culinary equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting! Go ahead and laugh…it was straight up like something out of a bad sitcom!! And no…I didn’t snap a picture!! After a brief encounter with a washcloth, I went back to the kitchen to conquer the cake batter. Once I got the cake into the oven, I had an hour to kill while it baked. I took a shower, washed the cake batter out of my hair, and changed clothes. Thirty minutes later, I felt and looked like a new woman…and my kitchen smelled pretty darn good!

The cake came out of the oven and was a lovely shade of deep-golden brown. I admit that I was feeling pretty impressed with myself and thought that
 just maybe I might eventually earn my baking stripes! Then Mishap #2 brought me crashing back to reality within minutes. The recipe said to cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes…so I made the lemon simple syrup and the lemon glaze while the cake did its thing. Then it was time for the moment of truth: I inverted the loaf pan onto my serving plate and heard a comforting plop…whew! My cake had released from the pan…rather, 95% of it had. Yep…part of the bottom of the cake was still inside the pan. Proving that I have a sense of humor when it comes to my baking limitations, I had a good laugh and placed my slightly-angled cake onto the serving platter.

I poked holes on the top of the cake with a fork and poured the simple syrup on top so the cake could soak it in. After a few minutes, I spooned the glaze on top of the cake. The end result? The cake tasted good…really good, actually!! Granted, it wasn’t exactly the supermodel of pound cakes…but it sliced very nicely and made a great dessert that night topped with some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla. While I’ll never be a master baker -- say that three times fast, folks -- I promise to keep trying my hand at baking from time to time! I hope you enjoy the recipe…mishaps not included!!

Lemon-Glazed Pound Cake
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350. Grease the bottom of a loaf pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream 2 sticks of room-temperature butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar for 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.  NOTE: It takes about an hour for the butter to come to the proper temperature after coming out of the fridge.

Step 2:  Add the following ingredients to a large measuring cup, but do not combine: 4 large room-temperature eggs, 2 tbs. honey, 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, and the zest of one lemon. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the mixture -- one egg at a time. Scrape down the bowl after each egg is incorporated. 

Step 3:  Sift together 2 cups cake flour, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients a little at a time, until just combined. This is where I got into trouble and ended up wearing cake batter, so proceed with caution! Here's how the finished cake batter looks:

Step 4:  Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula and pour it into the prepared loaf pan. 

Even out the top, tap the loaf pan on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles, and bake for 50-60 minutes. I turned the cake around in the oven about halfway through baking. The cake is ready to come out of the oven when a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Let the cake cook in the pan for 15 minutes.

Step 5:  Meanwhile, make the lemon simple syrup and lemon glaze. To make the simple syrup, combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons, depending on size).  Microwave for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar, stirring well. To make the lemon glaze, combine 1 cup confectioners sugar and 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice. I had to add a bit of water to make the glaze the right consistency.

Step 6:  After 15 minutes, turn the cake onto your serving platter. Hopefully you won't have the issues I did with sticking! Poke holes in the top of the cake with a fork and spoon the simple syrup on the top of the cake. It soaks into the cake pretty quickly. I waited five minutes, then spooned the glaze on top of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

When you're ready to serve, slice the cake with a serrated knife. The cake is great as is -- the simple syrup makes it moist, and the glaze gives the outside a sweet-tart flavor. That said, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a nice compliment as well!


  1. Looks delish! I've made Ina's recipe before, and it's a good cake. Here's a tip to get loaf cakes, brownies, and bar cookies out of the pan easily: after your butter/spray your baking pan, cut or fold a piece of parchment to fit inside the pan, so that the parchment drapes over the long sides of the pan, rather like a sling for the cake. I usually spray the parchment, too. After your cake, brownie, etc, cools for the time specified, run a knife on the unlined sides and just lift the cake out with the excess parchment. Works like a charm and you get a picture perfect pastry!

  2. Thanks for the tip...guess I should buy a roll of parchment. Can I get it at the regular grocery, or do I need to hit W-S? My loaf pan is Emile Henry, and is glazed. I've never had an issue with sticking before when I've made quick breads. But the parchment trick is good to know!

  3. I love pound cakes, and this with the lemon glaze is especially one of my favorites. Lately, I've been using the cooking spray, for BAKING! It already has the flour added right into it, and all you have to do is just give it a good shake, and spray you loaf pan on the bottom, and sides as well. The kind of loaf pan which works the best for cakes, is the non-stick aluminum kind, or the PYREX. Also loved your meat loaf recipe too. The chicken piccata, I don't bread it, just flour it, but in the end, they all taste just as good...nice and buttery-lemony! Thanks for sharing!

  4. hard to hate pound cake - I love it fresh but I also like it a little stale and toasted - yours looks delicious.

  5. I use so much parchment that I order it in sheets from King Arthur, but yes, you can buy it in the market. It's with the foil, etc. Here's the link to King Arthur, too.

  6. Pound cake is my favorite and I love all things lemon. Plus, you can't go wrong with Ina, am I right? Thanks for sharing your funny story!

  7. Looks delish!! It's exciting when even after the mishaps the outcome is still yummy!

  8. @Tracy: Yes, Ina's recipes are so great! I haven't posted the recipe yet, but also made her Green Goddess was good, especially if you LOVE garlic!!

  9. Great story! Isn't it funny that baking just gets the best of us sometimes??? I agree with you about letting the bakery do the work...I'd much rather concentrate on the rest of the meal!
    Glad it all turned out tasting good...

  10. Thanks for posting the recipe; I love to eat freshly baked cakes... Even though it’s bit of hard work to get it done :) I will definitely try this recipe...


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