My eating habits changed since I started cooking and baking. I no longer crave for sara lee after I realised how much fat and sugar goes into the making of a pound cake. The traditional way of making a pound cake will use 1 pound each of the four basic ingredients - butter, sugar, eggs and flour. You will need almost 2 blocks of butter, more than 2 cups of sugar, 8 large eggs and at least 3 cups of flour just to make a pound cake. While there are healthier versions around, most pound cake recipes till use these same ingredients ratios of 1:1:1:1.
It was only after reading the book that I discovered my mistakes. First, on both attempts, the batter started to curdle when I added too much eggs at one go. No problem, I thought, by adding one tablespoon of flour, the problem was solved. This happened at least twice while I was preparing the batter. Little did I know that this will actually cause the texture of the cake to be hard and dry!
Besides the dry texture, I also had problem with pound cakes not rising well above the rim. The problem lies at the folding of the flour into the batter. I have long since developed the habit of stopping when the flour has just incorporated into the batter. This book, however, recommends to continue to fold the mixture until the batter appears smooth and glossy. This method will increase the gluten formation in the flour, and as a result, the cake will rise and expand beautifully upon baking, and yet produce a cake that is soft, tender and moist.
As the saying goes...there is no end to learning! The only problem is, I need to look for people to share the pounds with me ;)
Banana Walnut Streusel Pound Cake
(makes a 18cmx8cmx6cm pound cake)
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
65g icing sugar, sieve
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g banana, mashed
125g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g unsalted butter, room temperature
25g icing sugar, sieve
25g cake flour
- To make streusel, place butter, icing sugar and cake flour in a bowl. With a fork, mix together the ingredients to form a soft dough. Leave in the fridge to chill.
- Break walnuts into pieces, place in a baking tray and toast it in a preheated oven at 100degC for 10mins. Set aside to cool.
- Line pound cake pan (18cm x 8cm x 6cm) with baking paper, set aside. Sieve flour and baking powder together, set aside.
- Place butter in a mixing bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter for a few seconds on medium speed. Add half of the icing sugar and continue to beat till the sugar is incorporated into the butter mixture. Add the remaining half of the icing sugar and continue to beat till the mixture turns pale, light and fluffy.
- Dribble in the eggs gradually, about 1 tablespoon at a time, each time beat at low speed till incorporated into the mixture before adding. This step is important to prevent the batter from curdling. Even though some flour can be added to the batter to stop it from curdling, the texture of the cake will be affected. (Note: always use room temperature eggs to prevent curdling.)
- Add in the vanilla extract and the mashed banana. Fold with a spatula till just incorporated. Do not over mix as it may cause the batter to curdle.
- Sieve over the flour and baking powder mixture. Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula. Once the flour is incorporated into the batter, continue to fold for 1 to 2 mins until the batter appears smooth and glossy. This step is important so that gluten in the flour will be formed which will help the cake to rise and expand during baking.
- Pour finished batter into prepared pan. Spread batter and smooth top. Sprinkle the walnut pieces on top. Lightly press into the batter with spatula.
- Remove chilled streusel dough from fridge. Grate the dough over the top of the batter. Work quickly as the dough will soften very fast (especially on hot days).
- Bake in pre-heated oven at 170degC for 25 mins. Remove pan from oven and make a slit with a wet knife (dipped in water) across the middle. Return to oven and continue to bake for 35 - 40mins until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, and the top is golden. Unmold and leave to cool completely. Store in air-tight container or wrap in cling wrap. Pound cakes are best eaten the next day.