Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Culinary eye candy

Like many people who love to bake, I am happy to have any excuse to turn on the oven and stir up something new. My bookshelves are groaning with the weight of new cookbooks. My folders bursting with Must-Make-Soon recipes. My laptop which has a document folder, with a recipes sub folder and then 20 or more sub folders under that. Chocolate gets its own folder. Of course.

So am I waiting around for an excuse to fall in my lap? Hell no. I try to sniff out opportunities. Any birthdays coming up? How about brunch? Would you like to come over for tea? But who am I kidding, there doesn't need to be an occasion or reason to bake. But if I'm going to do that type of baking, it's useful to have hungry neighbors, friends and obliging colleagues to help eat up all this bounty. Otherwise it just gets wrapped up tightly in foil and then packed in a Ziploc and then squirreled away in the freezer. But, with this new blog, I have a new found purpose to my baking. I no longer have to admit I had a craving for cake, or that my fingers were inexplicably itching to bake. For now, it is enough to say I have a blog. It needs tending and updating. Thank you Blog! (Does this happen to other people, a feeling of inner restlessness that gives you no peace until you've baked)?

It occurred to me that perhaps I should have some theme to my posts and then I thought what a great time to use all the different pans and molds that I have. Most of the time, they are just lounging around my kitchen shelves like so much culinary eye candy. Ceramic shortbread molds, Madeleine molds, springerle boards, and cookie cutters of all kinds of fanciful shapes. I'm a sucker for practically any kind of decorative baking tin. It's like I've got a sign that says if you are a piece of pretty bakeware then resistance is futile.

Which brings me to today's offering. The “LCD” vanilla pound cake from Warren Brown's book CakeLove. As a lawyer turned baker, I find his story inspiring as well as encouraging. Makes me feel a little less confused as I ponder my own psychologist-baker dilemma. But I digress. I chose this recipe because it looked delightfully simple and plain, and sometimes that's just the type of cozy treat you want.

You can see the pan I used to bake this was a Kaiser 12 cup Bundform, which was a little bit small, as the batter rose up 1 1/2 inches above the rim as it baked, looking like it would topple over at any moments. This added about 20 minutes extra to the baking time. Also note all the alcohol that went into the cake. Well OK, the quantity was barely a quarter of a cup, but still, I got to use 4 different bottles. Including my Calvados which was a new one. I get excited when I bake a cake with liqueur and not necessarily in an I'm so sophisticated kind of way, as much as in a giddy adolescent Look at me! Cooking with Booze! kinda way.
Here's the booze getting cozy with the sour cream. Awaiting the butter to come to room temperature so the creaming can begin.

The finished cake...yummy. The crust was my favorite part, all caramelized and crispy buttery bits. I love the scent of it too. The perfume of the vanilla and the rum and the butter is too good. I think it would be good with berries and ice cream. I think it would be lovely with nutmeg next time and little cubes of cinnamon apples as a variation.
And the pan? It's a good one. I just sprayed it with Pam baking spray (flour and oil combination spray) and it came out like a dream. I'll be using it again for sure.

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