The only problem with picking loaves as the theme for my autumn blogging event was that I had a really hard time deciding what to make myself! My first thought was to make a yeast bread. I usually do non-pan loaves when I bake bread, since I'm not that excited by typical sandwich loaves. However, I seriously considered Dan Lepard's Simple Milk Loaf (posted here by my friend Nancy), since somehow I haven't blogged it even though I've made it many times. This week ended up being kind of crazy, though, and I spent my day off on Thursday making a fancy birthday cake for a certain young lady who turned 5 on Friday. Thursday evening I decided to try to throw something together quickly so I wouldn't end up baking at the very last minute. The other thing I had been considering was pound cake. I ended up turning to my copy of Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. I made several of the variations of her Kamut Pound Cake a couple years ago, but again, never got them posted. I didn't have an kamut flour in my pantry, so I decided to go with one of the variations.
The version that caught my eye was the Bourbon and Nutmeg Pound Cake. As I mentioned in another recent post, nutmeg is one of my favorite spices, and this recipe sounded like a good one for fall. The kamut flour from the original recipe is replaced with either spelt flour (nope, out of that too) or whole wheat flour (yes! I have that!). I actually used white whole wheat flour. I also got to use some of my unbleached cake flour blend for the cake flour in the recipe.
My favorite pound cake recipes are usually the ones that fold melted butter into the batter at the end. I haven't had much luck with pound cakes using the creaming method. This recipe doesn't really do either. Medrich mentions that she adapted the recipe from The Cake Bible, so if you've made cakes from that book, the mixing method will be familiar. First you whisk together the wet ingredients--milk, bourbon, eggs and vanilla, and set that mixture aside. Next, you mix together the dry ingredients--flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Chunks of butter are added to the dry ingredients, along with a third of the liquids, and the mixture is beaten together for about a minute to develop the structure of the cake. Then the remaining liquid is added in two additions, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.
The recipe calls for an 8" by 4" loaf pan lined with parchment paper, and a bake time of 55 to 65 minutes at 350ºF. I decided to use the vintage loaf pan that I received from my friend Nancy, which is about 3.5" by 10" and only 2.5" deep. For others who have similar pans, the bake time is about 40 minutes. Once the cake was baked, I let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then lifted it out (I let the parchment overhang the sides a bit so I'd have handles) and let it cool completely on a rack. The next morning I cut it into thick slices and took it to work. (I did take a few pictures, but it was early in the morning and still dark outside, so they weren't very good.)
The verdict? Well, I had to bake a second loaf today to take decent pictures. I thought I'd have some left from the first loaf that I took to work, but it was pretty well devoured. I'll take that as a positive review. =) I really liked it myself--the cake is delicious, with a subtle spice from the nutmeg. I've made some dry pound cakes in the past, but this one definitely is not. I really like the slight nuttiness from the whole wheat flour, too. But don't take my word for it, try it for yourself!
I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book (maybe your local library will have it!)--there are lots of other enticing recipes besides this one. I was also able to find the recipe on Google Books here. (The link shows the variations page; the full recipe is on the previous page.) For those who like to use metric weights, here are the ingredients I used:
30 grams(2 tablespoons) whole milk, at room temperature
15 grams (1 tablespoon) bourbon
3 extra large eggs (what I had--the recipe calls for large)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
100 grams unbleached cake flour blend (KAF)
50 grams white whole wheat flour (KAF)
150 grams granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
185 grams (13 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
For lots of other delicious loaves of many varieties (including some savory ones!), check back later this week for the round-up!