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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Almond Pound Cake



Almond Pound Cake (photo credit: Aditi Srivastava)

I happened to have a packet of ground almonds in my kitchen leftover from a lemon cake baking expedition a few weeks ago. So when the baking bug bit this weekend, I sought Google in search of a good recipe for an almond cake. I didn't have the time or inclination to go shopping for extra ingredients, so it had to be something that could be put together with the stock that I currently had stashed away. That rigid constraint meant that I tossed aside many recipes, although the end results in each case looked delectable. Finally, I decided to be a little experimental and play with a Paula Deen recipe evocatively called Mama's Pound Cake recipe.

When I go hunting online in search of a good recipe, I always reject those that come with just a review or two. I try to go with those that have several positive reviews. This recipe certainly passed that litmus test, coming as it does with an impressive 258 reviews.

Did you know that the reason why a pound cake is called a pound cake is because traditionally, it uses a pound each (for Indian readers, roughly half a kilo) of each of the main ingredients - i.e. flour, eggs, butter and sugar. Because that original recipe would yield a gargantuan cake, modern day pound cake recipes such as the one I relied on, are somewhat more sophisticated.

The recipe is a fairly easy one. I relied on it to the T except that I substituted one of the three cups of all purpose flour that the recipe asks for with a cup of ground almonds and reduced the sugar to 2.5 cups based on comments from other reviewers. I also added in a wee bit of yellow food colouring to enhance the visual appeal. This cake calls for lots of eggs - 5 to be precise. And so I ended up using most of the eggs that I had in my fridge. It also made a dent in my butter reserves (which I keep stocked in anticipation of being hit by the baking bug on a cold wintry day when I am not in the mood to step out for basic baking ingredients). Definitely not a recipe for those trying to steer clear of cholestrol.

The finished product was a good cake that rose evenly and had a fine crumb. But the almond flavour wasn't as strong as I had hoped. If I do make this cake without the almonds, I would definitely add a little more vanilla/other flavouring as I felt that the 1 tsp vanilla that the recipe calls for wasn't quite enough. I had to pack it up in a hurry, as I was rushing out to meet friends and meant to carry some of it along for them. So the poor cake didn't get the chance to cool and come into its own after its torrid time in the oven.

If I had more time on my hands, I would have definitely dressed this cake up a little more before serving. In fact, I did buy some almond flakes thinking that I could use it to do up the cake. But because I was in such a rush, I didn't end up using them after all. To be fair though, it is the sort of cake that can carry off a solo performance on its own. Pair it with steaming tea or coffee for a happy feeling.

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