Friday, October 14, 2016

Baking Happy Hour - Bourbon Bundt Cake

As promised on Wednesday, we've got a triad of Bundt cakes to talk about. And here is the second: Kentucky Pound Cake from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts.

I got the book a number of years ago (I'm not going to look at the note in the front to see just how many years), and there are a number of recipes I use from it. I really love the East 52nd Street Lemon Cake, among others, which uses the same basic technique for glazing that this one does.

I really need to find a better way to display cookbook pages if I'm going to keep doing this, don't I?
You'll notice that the title of the recipe is "Kentucky Pound Cake," but I called it a "Bourbon Bundt Cake" - I think you'll understand why as we go along.

Most of the steps for this are almost the same as for the Lemon-Lavender Bundt cake from the other day. There are a few distinct differences.

1) This recipe is very clear that you need to sift your dry ingredients. I honestly don't know the last time I sifted my flour, but I did it this time, just to be safe.

Do not tell my junior high Home Ec teacher that I washed the sifter out in the sink afterward. I remember her specifically telling us that it would make the flour gummy and you'd never get it clean again.
2) This cake recipe - unlike most cakes I've ever made - has only light brown sugar in the cake itself, instead of the more traditional white granulated sugar. 
It also struck me as a little odd that the recipe calls for "one pound, plus one cup" of light brown sugar. This means you can't simply weigh it all, but you also can't simply measure it all. (Or maybe you can, and I just don't know my weight/cups conversions for packed light brown sugar.)

At any rate, I ended up with this kind of Devil's Tower-looking mass of brown sugar-y goodness in my prep bowl.
So, as we did in Wednesday's post, we creamed the butter (okay... I used margarine) and brown sugar, and then added in the eggs one at a time. Then we got to the "alternating dry and wet" ingredients bit, which is where this got really fragrant.
Yes, that's a little tiny (well... small, at least) bottle of Jim Beam on the counter. We don't typically have Bourbon in the house, so I went to the liquor store and got all sorts of odd looks asking which bottle they had would be closest to a half cup.
I'm not a huge fan of "brown liquors" for their aromas, but when this went into the mix with the brown sugar and vanilla, it smelled amazing.

This batter was a little closer to a standard cake batter than the last pound cake was, but you can still see that it didn't just go all runny when I put it into the pan.

Because this pan is fairly easy to get around in (sorry, you'll have to scroll down to the "after" photo to see the actual pan), I used my margarine wrapper to grease it, and then coated it with flour. I didn't use the "butter and sugar" method that I used last time, because this cake was going to get a liquid glaze, so the crunchy sugar exterior would just melt.
Oh - the astute among you will notice that this is not a Bundt pan. It's a tube pan (with a removable fluted base). Let's not mention that to the people whom we told we were going to bring multiple Bundt cakes for their party...
An hour and 25 minutes later (pound cakes are not for people in a hurry), the cake came out of the oven to cool, and the house smelled of boozy, caramely goodness.

After some cooling time followed by my usual prayers and finger burns, the cake came out of the pan looking pretty awesome, even if it wasn't technically a Bundt.

It's good to go when it becomes clear, because that means all the sugar has dissolved.
I prepped my glaze (wondering the entire time whether it was really wise to have alcohol over an open flame), and put the cake over a sheet pan so that the pan would catch the dripping glaze and I wouldn't have to spend the next hour trying to wash down the countertop. 

If you look closely, you can see the light coming through around the edge of the pan in the background. That's because it's a removable-bottom pan, and I had taken it apart as I was removing the cake. 
As the cake cooled and the glaze hardened, the cake actually got a little darker looking, and by the time it was ready to plate and take, it was pretty much picture perfect, if I do say so myself.
You can see how the sugar in the glaze has started to recrystallize, lending a really nice outer "shell" to the cake when you cut into it.
Again, as with the last one, I don't have a "money shot" photo, because we didn't cut these before taking them to the party we went to. Here are the things I can say about it:
  • The texture was a little denser than I expected (considering the liquid nature of the batter)
  • You do not want to use expensive Bourbon in this, because the flavor is probably going to get lost in the sugars
  • The booze does not have a chance to "cook out" because the glaze isn't ever cooked - so you probably don't want to serve this to any kids. 
So there you have it: a perfect fall happy hour cake!

Tune in next week for a Bundt cake that will help you dispose of some of the extra apples you have after going out apple picking this fall.


Reminder: I'm on the lookout for recipes you want me to work with and post about. Whether they are something you've never tried because you want to see how it turns out, first; or something that you had a flop with and want to see if it was just you; let me know, and I'll whip it up and see what happens!

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