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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pistachio Pound Cake

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I'm in love with dairy-free baking. Sure, I miss butter every once in a while, and it's a little hard to do pumpkin pie without whipped cream, but it's still amazing to be able to source things that are other than dairy milk to create delicious foods. The dairy-free diet is much easier than you'd think it would be to do, and the fact that I haven't had to check in to heavy cream rehab should be something commendable.

But what can be done when one is craving a certain something that is so iconic in its American roots that simply everyone that hears its name conjures the same image? Oh, yes, my friends, I'm talking about the all-American Pound Cake.
Please don't judge me by how many tabs I have open.

Just a quick Google will show you images and recipes for this beloved classic, so simple to make, nearly anyone can do it. All you need for a pound cake is:

  • 1 lb flour
  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 lb eggs
  • 1 lb sugar
That's. It.

This doesn't stop everyone and their mother from coming up with their own versions, of course. There are olive oil pound cakes, sugar-free pound cakes, gluten-free pound cakes...you name it! The best part about a pound cake, in my opinion, is that it freezes perfectly. Seriously, you can just bake off one or two of them when you feel like it and freeze the one you don't eat. It'll thaw nicely, and if you bake it in a loaf, you can slice off pieces as needed and use them as a bread substitute for French toast. 
I baked it in a bread loaf pan to make myself feel better about it. Please don't judge me. I was hella single.
Pound cake is so versatile that it can be used in many other desserts after you've had the slice that you want. You can cube it up and use it in trifle, or (again) the best darn French toast you've ever had in your life. No really! Try pound cake French toast. But you might want to write a last will and testament beforehand. You know. Just to be safe.

I love pound cake because I don't have to go looking up a recipe when I feel like making a cake. The best part about baking pound cake is that it's such a stable recipe that you can screw around with it without ruining the entire thing. Whole wheat flour, for example, can be substituted for white flour if you want to feel a little less guilty about it. You can also use olive oil in lieu of butter for a healthier version, so long as you adjust accordingly.

Yes, folks, it's tragic, but it's true. You can't always substitute ingredients 1:1. For example!

If you want to make an olive oil pound cake, use 12 oz olive oil with the 16 oz of everything else. This is because the olive oil is a liquid and must be treated differently than a solid. 

If you wanted to substitute honey for sugar, simply measure out your sugar, by weight, then scoop out one cup of it and replace it with 2/3 cup of honey. 

There are plenty of ways you can mess with the recipe without totally ruining it, so let pound cake be your guide when you're feeling adventurous...but not too adventurous. This recipe, for example, is an attempt at a healthier pound cake. A fair portion of the flour is substituted for whole wheat, and the fat portion is a melange of oils that are good for you.

Pistachio Pound Cake
  • 1 oz flax oil
  • 9 oz grapeseed oil
  • 6 oz coconut oil
  • 1 lb(16 oz) granulated sugar
  • 7 large eggs
  • 4 oz AP flour
  • 10 oz whole wheat flour
  • 2 oz raw pistachios, ground finely(you can buy pistachio meal or use a spice grinder)
  • 1 tsp pistachio extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
Combine the sugar and the oils in the bowl of your standing mixer and whip together using the whisk attachment until tripled in volume, about 2 minutes on high. Meanwhile, crack all of your eggs into a bowl and add in one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated, about 30 seconds per egg. Add in your extract. 

Sift together ALL of your dry ingredients, including the seeds, into a separate container and remove the bowl from the standing mixer. Gently fold in the dry ingredients using a spatula, in about four parts. The batter should be rather smooth and quite voluminous still, with a pale yellow color. 

The Nordicware pan(left) was purchased from Sur La Table;
the Bundt pan was found at a thrift shop in Englewood for about $4.
This batter makes a full bundt cake or two rather-full pound cake tins. I did a not-so-full pound cake tin and a not-so-full bundt cake tin, because I couldn't decide. The cake itself is rather dense but it's made with whole wheat flour and flax oil, so you don't have to feel bad about eating it. Flax oil is high in Omega 3s, and whole wheat flour gives you lots of fiber and nutrients that your body is likely craving. So you really can have your cake and eat it, too! (Especially if you make a nice drizzle from powdered sugar and coconut milk!)

Happy baking and happy eating!

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