It has been a week of plans that didn’t work out. First, T. had an asthma attack, went to the emergency clinic and missed her plane. Then, G. and I were supposed to go to his mom’s for dinner because his niece and her husband were visiting from Ohio, but they called at 5 p.m. and were still in Indiana, so dinner was canceled.
I had already made a cake for dessert, so G. and I each ate a piece. He’ll take the rest to his mom’s house when he has dinner there tonight.
I had been reading more of Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, so I decided to make a pound cake. And then we still have pounds and pounds of cranberries in the refrigerator, so I decided to use those in the cake. I thought about using Craisins, because we have piles of those too, but I wanted to use the actual fruit. I thought about a blueberry muffin recipe I saw a while ago in Cook’s Illustrated. It said to really get blueberry flavor, you should make a compote and swirl the blueberry into the batter instead of just having isolated blueberries here and there. I thought the same principle would apply to cake, and it does. The cranberry swirl lends more of a fruit flavor than isolated cranberries or Craisins would.
I finished the cake with a lemon glaze, in part because that’s what Ruhlman did with the citrus pound cake in his book and in part because I had fresh lemon juice on hand. I was a little surprised when the glaze soaked into the cake instead of laying like icing on top.
The result is an old-fashioned dessert, delicious on the cool nights that we are having now but packed with calories. G. says that’s why it’s called pound cake _ every bite adds a pound. For sharing with a group though, this is a great dessert.
Just two notes _ first, this is a half-pound cake. But the quantities can be doubled to make a larger one. If you do that, you’ll probably need to increase the baking time. Also, Ruhlman doesn’t use baking powder. I did because I don’t think my technique in creaming the butter and sugar is good enough to ensure the cake rises properly. If you are better at whipping and can get enough air into the mixture, you won’t need it.
Cranberry Pound Cake
2 cups cranberry compote
8 ounces butter (2 sticks, softened)
8 ounces sugar
8 ounces eggs (about 4, if eggs are small it’s 4 plus a yolk)
8 ounces of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and grease a 9-inch bundt pan.
Cream butter and sugar. If done properly, enough air will be incorporated into the mixture for the butter to increase in volume slightly and become bright and pale.
Beat in eggs one by one. Add vanilla. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Beat just long enough to have a smooth batter.
Pour a third of the batter into the bundt pan. Layer half of the cranberry compote on top. Pour in another third of the batter, and then add a second layer of cranberry compote. Finish with a layer of batter.
Insert a butter knife straight down into the batter and then move it slowly through the batter in a wavy line. This will create the swirl.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
When the cake is cool, you can add a lemon glaze. Warm 2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and stir in an equal amount of powdered sugar. If it’s still sour, add more sugar until it tastes right. Drizzle on top of cake.