Cake Calculus

It’s a classic cost/benefit thing.Anything can be evaluated this way.

The Kid and I were shopping for a couch for my child’s pad and discovered this horrific collection of bedroom furniture.

This isn’t the exact set, but I think photographing the original might have been a war crime.

It was a nightmare of white laminate, gilding, and mirrors.  It had cup holders, and recessed lighting, and mysterious switches, knobs and buttons.  It was so insanely over-the-top that the proprietor of a house of ill repute would veto it due to extreme, borderline-criminal tackiness.

This isn’t the set either, but I will see this in my nightmares, and now so will you.

The price tag for this violent assault on both furniture design and good taste?

Oh, somewhere in the neighborhood of $13,000.

Cost/benefit analysis?  They’d have to pay me a heck of a lot more dough to persuade me to let that mess through my front door.  And more still to keep it.

So, there’s this pound cake.  It takes time to prepare.  If it’s beaten too long, it’ll overflow the pan.  It’s easy to undercook.

how to get cake out of bundt pan

Not an actual brown sugar pound cake, but a tragic scene nonetheless.

And worst of all, there is the ever-present, ominous possibility that it might stick to the pan, and come out in chunks (happily though, the smaller Bundts almost never stick).

But.

But.

I promise, stuck and broken, or perfect and gorgeous, this’ll be the best pound cake you’ve ever eaten.I’ll tell you how good this cake is.  Not only does it not have frosting or a glaze, it doesn’t even need it.  I’ve never said that about any other cake in the history of cakes.

The inside is moist, delicious, and studded with toasted pecans.  The crust is both chewy and crispy.   It’s transcendent, confectionary magic.

Just make it once.  Like all great art, you’ll find yourself thinking about it long after the last slice has been eaten.

Brown Sugar Pound Cakebrown sugar pound cake3¼ cups + 2 tablespoons cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1½ cups butter, softened

1-1lb box light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

5 large eggs, room temp

¾ cup whole milk

¼ cup golden rum

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup roasted pecan piecesbundtsPreheat oven to 325F.  Thoroughly grease and flour heavy 12 cup Bundt pan, or a mini Bundt pan, then spray with oil/flour cooking spray, covering the entire inside surface.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

Beat butter in mixing bowl until light (about 3 minutes). Gradually add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.  Don’t overbeat or your cake will have too much air, and overflow pan. 

Mix milk, rum, and vanilla.  Add to batter alternately with dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry ingredients (3 additions of dry and 2 of milk mix). Off mixer, fold in nuts.  Pour into pan.

Bake 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours just until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Just remember, minis cook much quicker, so watch ’em.

Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to finish cooling.  The warmer the cake is when turned out, the crispier and chewier the crust will be.

When completely cooled, wrap well and store overnight (don’t refrigerate) before serving.  Makes 12-16 slices.

Kristen Benkendorfer (left), and baker Shawn Collier

I recently spent some time at Big Bundts and More in Durham.  Owner Kristen Benkendorfer has made thousands of Bundts.  I asked her about the heartbreaking tendency of a Bundt sticking.  She gave me the double-grease-flour procedure.  But, she said that sometimes, no matter what you do, the cake will stick, and even break into chunks.

You just need to ask yourself if the cake is worth the stress, the worry, and the possibility of tragic, yet delicious failure?

Is Enterprise the most disappointing Star Trek series?(The answer is yes.)

Thanks for your time.

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