Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Brown Sugar Pound Cake: Why do you taste so good?!

I follow a short list of food sites and blogs. It's great fun to see what the trends are in SF, L.A. and New York. One of my favorites to follow is the food section of the L.A. Times newspaper. I really enjoy following the adventures of their test kitchen.

Each Friday they pick a cooking project for the weekend. In mid-February I was pleased to see the weekend project was a Brown Sugar Pound Cake with Caramel Glaze. This recipe was named one of their best recipes from 2007.

Like many people, I love caramel. So I'm always scanning cookbooks and blogs for recipes with caramel as a main ingredient.

One of my favorite recipes is the Caramel Cake with Caramelized Frosting adapted by the very talented chef Shuna Fish Lydon from (of course!) a recipe from Flo Braker.

This cake has incredible depth of flavor. But it isn't the quickest or easiest cake to bake. In fact, Shuna even includes a tutorial on her blog for those that want to attempt baking this cake. I took advantage of that tutorial when I made the cake for the first time for a baking challenge in 2008.

I never fail to get a request for this recipe when I make it for friends. And it never fails that most are a bit intimidated by the complexity of the recipe.

So after scanning the L.A. Times recipe I was pleased to see that it was a pretty easy recipe that didn't require an instant read thermometer and boiling sugar!

This recipe is based on one from Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott.

And that reminded me that I also owned a "southern" baking book. But although I love the personal stories weaved with the recipes -- I hadn't baked anything from it because the author didn't specify how she measured her flour. A vital piece of information!

The book is Sweets: Soul Food Desserts and Memories by Patty Pinner. And I was very excited when Pinner responded to a message about how she measures flour that I sent to her via Facebook with the answer I was looking for -- dip and sweep. I'm excited to try Pinner's version of Brown Sugar Pound Cake although it is slightly different from the L.A. Times version. She also has a recipe for Caramel Cake that I want to try.

And I was excited that Pinner has started a blog called domestic geisha where she continues to give her readers stories and recipes.

But back to the L.A.Times recipe -- it came together quickly and easily and was delicious. The only thing I would change next time I make it is to smooth the icing over the cake after I let it drip down the sides. The drips looked cool until they hardened then it just looked messy and uneven. The icing dries almost immediately so I used an icing spatula that I ran under hot water to even it out.

So not only was the cake delicious, but thanks to the L.A. Times test kitchen, I won't have to worry about giving a tutorial with the recipe.


  1. randeebpalmer@yahoo.comMarch 23, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    I make an old fashioned apple spice cake with a caramel icing. Once the icing goes on, it immediately gets hard and cracks when served. Makes for a difficult time cutting and a messier presentation. Does this happen with this recipe as well? If so, I score through the icing for the serving slices immediately upon icing it.

  2. Hello!
    This icing must be "softer" than the one you are using. It slices cleanly. But it does hardened almost immediately. Compare the icing ingredients to the one you use and see what might be different. Thanks for your comment! patricia