Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pound Cake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

{Moving Update} 
My things have FINALLY arrived!  And now comes the task of unpacking all the boxes & trying to find homes for most everything in this not-so-large apartment.  Even though the moving company was very late, I am still grateful that everything has arrived, and I have learned things I will do much differently when we next move (in a couple years)....  

At the beginning of April, my now-husband's family threw me a lovely bridal shower in Charleston.  It was a great time to reconnect with relatives that were soon to become part of my extended family and to get to know other relatives I had not yet met.

While there were many delicious food choices (and I am quite certain that no one left hungry), one particular item shines in my memories of the afternoon: Pound Cake.  My husband's aunt brought the most amazing homemade pound cake I have ever eaten!

Now, I didn't grow up in the south, and generally speaking, most of my pound cake experiences involved a really dry, not very flavorful cake that really was not so memorable.  But this cake was completely different.  It was moist.  It was flavorful.  It was delicious.  Literally, the best pound cake I had ever eaten.

When the shower ended, there was some leftover food.  Knowing that I had been too busy to cook or bake for myself during this past whirlwind spring of working & wedding planning, they graciously asked if I wanted to take home any leftovers.  So I returned home to my apartment with not just lovely memories & generous gifts from the shower,  I returned also with a hunk of amazing pound cake.

The cake did not last long.  Every time I entered my kitchen & saw the cake sitting on my counter, I had to break off a piece.  And another piece.  And another piece.  Very soon the cake was gone.

I was browsing recipes the other day when I came across a pound cake recipe that stated it was Elvis's favorite pound cake.  Now, I'm not entirely sure of the validity of that statement, but I figured that Elvis probably did not like dry, tasteless pound cake.  This cake, while not quite the same as the cake from my shower, is very tasty & not dry, though it didn't quite develop the same crust I was desiring.  I think it is time to ask for the original bridal shower pound cake recipe!  

In all the busyness of this past spring, with wedding things & moving, I have missed most of strawberry season.  I decided to pair this pound cake with some balsamic roasted strawberries & some vanilla bean chantilly cream.  If you have never tasted the combination, balsamic vinegar & strawberries pair beautifully together.  I like to include the vinegar during the roasting because I like how the flavor both mellows slightly & increases in richness during the heating process.  If you prefer a little more vinegar bite, certainly stir the vinegar in to the berries after they are roasted.  

The cake soaks up the syrupy strawberry balsamic juices just wonderfully& the sweet vanilla of the cream accents the vanilla of the cake.  If you're feeling especially decadent, pan toast the pound cake before serving.  Lightly butter each side of the cake & toast it on the stove until golden.  

Pound Cake
adapted from epicurious.com
I did cut the original recipe in half to fit in a loaf pan, since my bundt pan had not yet arrived...  

4 oz (1 stick) Unsalted butter, softened
10.5 oz (1.5 cups) Granulated Sugar
3/4 tsp Salt
4 Eggs, room temp
2 tsp Vanilla Extract {I used Vanilla Bean Paste}
6 oz (1.5 cups) Cake Flour, sifted
scant 1/2 cup Heavy Cream

1.  Do NOT preheat your oven.

2.  Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Cream about 5 to 6 minutes, or until fluffy, and lighter in volume and color.

3.  During the creaming time, use the wrapper from the butter to grease a loaf pan.  Sift a little cake flour over the buttered pan & tap out any excess.  Sift the flour three times (if you're using volumetric measurement, sift prior to measuring), and set aside.

4.  Once the creamed mixture is complete, add the eggs one at a time, scraping after each addition.  Add the vanilla & mix until combined.

5.  Add half of the flour to the mixer & paddle until just combined.  Scrape.  Add the cream & mix just until combined.  Add the remaining flour & paddle until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Scrape the sides & paddle and finish by hand, if necessary.

6.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan & smooth the top.

7.  Place the loaf pan into a COLD oven.  Turn the oven on to 350 F & bake around 45 minutes, or until a skewer/tooth pick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs.

8.  Cool in the pan for 20 minutes then invert on a wire rack to finish cooling.

9.  Use a serrated knife to cut into slices & serve as desired.  The cake will keep (if not eaten first) for up to 5 days, well wrapped, at room temperature.

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries 
I actually roasted mine in the toaster oven & it worked well.  Plus, it didn't heat up the whole oven (and the house).  

2 cups hulled, halved strawberries
2 oz granulated sugar
2 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2.  Hull & half the strawberries.  Quarter the large ones.

3.  Toss the strawberries with the sugar & vinegar until well coated.  Lay the mixture in an even, single layer on a parchment lined baking vessel (sheet pan, glass dish... a pan with sides).

4.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from the pan (and parchment paper) and cool completely.

Chantilly Cream  

8 oz Heavy Cream
1 oz Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

1.  Place a non-plastic bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.  If you plan to make the whipped cream with your stand mixer, put the mixer bowl into the freezer.

2.  Combine the heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean paste in the frozen bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed until soft peaks form.  Do not walk away during the mixing process (or the cream may overwhip into butter & buttermilk).

3.  Alternately, use a wire whisk to make by hand.  {I always prefer to make it by hand...  I have better control over how far it whips & I like the arm workout}

4.  Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To Serve
1.  Cut the pound cake into generous slices. 

2.  Spoon balsamic strawberries (don't forget the sauce-y part) over the cake, so that the juices are absorbed. 

3.  Top with vanilla bean chantilly cream.  Serve immediately.  

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