Monday, May 22, 2017

Lemon Crème Fraiche Pound Cake

Pound cake is one of the easiest cakes to make, but to make a truly good pound cake requires just the right recipe. When I came across a recipe for a lemon pound cake in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008), I was intrigued by the fact that had melted butter

in it – and lots of it, as well as sour cream to make it moist. Most pound cake recipes rely on the process of creaming the butter and sugar together for several minutes to create the air bubbles that give the cake its structure (along with a little modern help from leaveners). This recipe relies on eggs and leaveners alone. So I tried Matt and

Renato’s recipe and I thought it was excellent – very moist and very lemony (important for the lemon lovers among us). Then I decided to tinker around with the recipe, changing the ingredient proportions slightly, changing the mixing process, cutting the sugar a bit, and substituting crème fraiche for the sour cream for extra richness. The resulting cake is equally good (not necessarily better): a simple Bundt cake with lots of tangy lemon flour and a moist crumb the color of sunshine. Another pound cake recipe for the ever-growing repertoire.

Lemon Crème Fraiche Pound Cake
Adapted from Lemon Lemon Loaf in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008)

Makes one 10-inch Bundt cake

Lemon Crème Fraiche Pound Cake:
1 ½ cups (340 g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup crème fraiche
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

Lemon Syrup:
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (with rack in center position). Grease a 10-inch fluted tube pan well with shortening and dust it with flour.  
2. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk lightly to combine and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well blended. Slowly whisk in the melted butter, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition until the mixture is emulsified. Whisk in the lemon juice, zest, crème fraiche and vanilla until blended. Fold in the sifted dry ingredients one-third at a time, mixing just until combined.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While the cake is baking, make the Lemon Syrup.
6. For the syrup, place the sugar and lemon juice in a small pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to boil for about 1 minute, until slightly thickened.
7. Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack. Using a bamboo skewer, poke holes all over the surface of the cake about an inch deep, spacing them about an inch apart. Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper under the rack and brush the surface of the hot cake all over with all of the syrup. Allow the cake to cool completely.
8. For the glaze, sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and whisk in the lemon juice until the glaze is completely smooth. Spoon the glaze over the top and sides of the cooled cake.