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Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

A pound cake is a kind of cake which is made of 1 pound of each of the following ingredients: eggs, flour, butter and sugar.  However, there are many variations, substitutions and additions to this type of cake and the quantities are often varied to fit the baking mold you are going to use.  For example, sometimes vegetable oil or sour cream is used to substitute some of the butter for a less dense and more moist cake.  Also, baking soda and/or baking powder are sometimes added to induce leavening properties while baking. In addition, vanilla extract (or other flavoring agents), dried fruit and/or nuts can be incorporated and still be called pound cake as long as an approximate ratio of 1:1:1:1 of the ingredients is maintained.

I have always been a big fan of blueberries. Blueberry muffins, bagles, pancakes, preserves, pie and pound cake, have been in my list of favorites since I was young.  While I lived in DC, I loved the blueberry muffins at Armand’s for breakfast or going to Sutton Place Gourmet and buying their delicious Blueberry Pound Cake to reward myself after a long week of exams.  I  have never found a Blueberry Pound Cake as good as the one they had at Sutton Place Gourmet except for this one.  This version of Blueberry Pound Cake has taken me a while to perfect.  Sometimes it would come out too dense or too light or too dry or I put too many blueberries and it would break apart.  To tell you the truth, I tried dozens of recipes before I came up with this version. As a result, I have kept an approximate ratio of about 1/2 pound of the main four ingredients in this recipe (give or take a little).  Remember, never use canned blueberries only fresh for the best results. Serve for breakfast, snack or for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Here is my version of Blueberry Pound Cake.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Pound Cake

Ingredients

1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick) plus a little more for greasing pan

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cups sour cream

3 eggs

2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (sifted) plus 1 tbsp to sprinkle over blueberries

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

lemon zest 1 lemon

3/4 cup of fresh blueberries

glaze

superfine sugar (10×10)

juice of 1 lemon

Procedure


1.  Cream butter and sugar with paddle attachment of stand up electric mixer. (You may use an electric hand mixer as well).

2.  Add sour cream and vanilla extract followed by eggs, one at a time.

3.  Meanwhile in a bowl, sift the flour.  Add salt, baking powder and baking soda and gently stir with a fork to combine.

4.  Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in batches just until fully incorporated.  The result will be a dense batter.

5.  Add lemon zest to finish blending.

6.  In a small bowl place washed fresh blueberries and dredge with some flour to coat. Gently fold into mixture.

7.  Coat loaf pan with butter and pour batter into pan (10×5 inches).  Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour or until sharp knife comes out clean. Let rest for about 10 minutes.

8.  Remove from pan carefully and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile mix the juice of the lemon used for the lemon zest with powdered sugar until desired consistency has been reached.  Drizzle with a spoon over pound cake.  Store in a cake dome, foil paper or container with lid.

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For this family recipe I had to travel a long way to get it. One of those dishes that is one person’s trademark and she makes it without a written recipe. When you ask for the recipe he/she lists the ingredients but cannot tell you the exact amounts…  what a nightmare! Ja, ja!

Nieves showing me how to make her traditional lemon bread Summer 1998

It is a simple lemon bread that reminds me of frequent trips to Spain during my childhood. In the summer of 1997 my younger brothers, in their teens at the time, spent about 3 weeks visiting relatives in Spain in which they asked Nieves (my great-grandmother’s housekeeper, family-nanny, cook and companion for over 60 years and whom we consider to be part of our family) everyday to make the lemon bread for them . I only had the chance to join them for about 1 week and a half because of work, but it a was a summer I will never forget.  We got a chance to spend time with our Spanish cousins, listen to family stories and get to know the Spanish countryside.  In addition, our group of about 15 family members travelled throughout the region in a bus and stayed in “turismo rural” or country homes from former well to do families that had been renovated with government money and turned into bed and breakfasts.  It was a well planned family trip full of history and natural beauty.

Monastery on the Galician countryside Summer 1997

When I got back to Puerto Rico, I met my husband Emilio and by next summer we were already married. So, for part of our honeymoon, we decided to go to Spain since my husband had not visited the country.  One afternoon, upon arrival to our beautiful historic hotel, Hostal de los Reyes Católicos in Santiago de Compostela, Nieves called and invited us for a late lunch.  I said I would go but with the condition that she taught me how to make her world famous lemon bread (I could not return to America without the recipe because my brother Joaco would kill me!). She accepted and in June 1998 she showed me (Emilio recorded the event) how to make it.  It was in a tiny kitchen in the third floor of my great-grandmother’s house on Marina Street in Villagarcia with a small gas oven and in a beaten cake pan with a hole in the middle that wobbled.  She took the sugar, flour, salt, vegetable oil and baking powder from her pantry and eggs, lemon and yogurt (her secret ingredient) from the small fridge.  She did not use measuring cups or spoons. Instead, she used the same cup in which the yogurt came in to measure all ingredients and a soup spoon to measure the baking powder. She used a lot of baking powder in relation to the amount of flour used which for some reason (I will be researching that soon!) makes it more rustic and crumbly, like the texture of corn bread but moist at the same time I guess because of the oil and yogurt (which is why I call it lemon bread instead of cake). I have tried using a lot less baking powder and the result is a delicious smooth fluffy lemon cake, but that’s another recipe. Anyway, she mixed all ingredients with a hand mixer and was very specific about not over mixing and first cooking the cake at approximately 400º f for the first 15 minutes and 350ºf for the remaining 30 minutes to get that golden brown finish.  Once I got back home, I converted the measurements and created a recipe that could be measured in cups and teaspoons and the results were very similar to the original according to my “tasters”.  Great for breakfast on a weekend morning (my kids love it!) or as a snack with coffee or tea.  Also, good with a glass of milk or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for desert…yummy!

Here is my version of Nieves’ Lemon Bread.

PS:  As many of you know, I was in the hospital last week for 4 days, I have no words to thank my family and friends for their company, support and words of encouragement during tough times.  However, I can show them by making this lemon bread for some of them to tell them how grateful I am that they are in my life.

Enjoy!

Nieves’ Lemon Bread

Ingredients

4 eggs

250 g of lemon or vanilla yogurt

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

pinch of salt

zest of one yellow lemon

1 tbsp butter for greasing pan (approximately)

Procedure

1.    Turn oven on 400ºf.  Butter standard loaf pan (approx. 10 x5)

2     In a bowl put flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.

3.  In another bowl, beat eggs. Then add sugar, vegetable oil and yogurt and continue to mix with a whisk or mixer until all ingredients are incorporated for about 2 minutes.

4.  Add flour, salt and baking powder mixture in batches of three. Do not over mix.

5.  Add lemon zest and mix by hand with a spatula or whisk.

6.  Bake at 400º f for 15 minutes and lower to 350ºf for the remaining 30 minutes in middle rack. Do not open oven at any time until finished baking.  Ovens vary so pay attention the first time you make it to make any adjustments.

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On Monday, it was my son’s 8th birthday so I made this delicious cake for him and our family to celebrate! This is a traditional vanilla birthday cake with meringue frosting.  My father calls it “drunken cake”  because I make the cake syrup with Amaretto di Sarono. To make the frosting, which is in some recipe books called “7 minute frosting”, its better if you have an electric stand-up mixer like Kitchen Aid’s, in order to pour in the frosting syrup while the egg whites are being beaten simultaneously. You can also add food coloring of your choice to give it some color.  I must confess, this cake is so good that I have to give away the leftovers because I am afraid I won’t have the self control of eating it all by myself with a glass of milk. Let me know how it goes…

Traditional Birthday Cake with Meringue Frosting

Ingredients:

Cake batter

1/2 pound of butter (2 sticks at room temperature) and a little extra for greasing pan

8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)

2 cups of sugar

6  large eggs

2 cups of cake flour (sifted)

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Frosting (should be done the day you will serve the cake)

3 egg whites (at room temperature)

dash of salt

frosting syrup (Dissolve 1 cup of sugar + 1/2 cup water+ 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract. Heat until thick in consistency like maple syrup.)

Cake syrup

1/2 cup amaretto, brandy, cognac, rum or your choice of liqueur

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of water

Procedure:

1.  Pre-heat oven at 350º F. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment.  Add cream cheese.   Alternate adding eggs and flour scraping bottom with a spatula occasionally.  Add vanilla at the end. Beat until all ingredients are incorporated.  Do not over beat.

2.  Pour cake batter in a greased (with butter) bundt cake pan. Bake in middle rack for about one hour (check with a toothpick or sharp knife for doneness).

3.  Meanwhile, beat egg whites and dash of salt in an electric mixer in high speed with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.

4.  Make frosting syrup (Dissolve 1 cup of sugar + 1/2 cup water+ 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract. Heat until thick in consistency like maple syrup about 15-20 min.  Stirring occasionally in med-hi heat.)  Immediately, add to egg whites slowly  in a stream. Continue to whisk in high speed for about 5-8 more minutes. Set aside.

5.  Make cake syrup by heating all ingredients over medium heat just until sugar is completely dissolved in liquid (about 8-10 minutes).  Consistency should be liquid not thick.  Set aside.

6.  Remove cake from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes in cake pan.  Punch holes in the cake with toothpick and slowly pour cake syrup over cake.  Let cool and absorb the cake syrup for at least 30 min.

5.  Remove cake from pan and let cool completely.  Decorate with frosting leave at room temperature in cake dome.

Enjoy!

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