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Cold oven works magic on pound cake recipe


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POSTED: Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Pat Panik and her baking buddy are on a mission: “;My friend Kathie and I are on the hunt for a very moist pound cake recipe,”; Panik wrote. “;So far we've gotten the usual heavy and somewhat dry results with the ones we've tried. If you could wave your magic wand and make one appear, we'd really appreciate it.”;

It's so nice when people think I'm magical. And in this case my wand did deliver. On the first wave, too.

Pat and Kathie are after a plain (as opposed to chocolate or fruit-flavored) pound cake that they can dress up with toppings. Lots of recipes out there claim to deliver a moist cake (or extra-moist, or the most moist cake ever). Many are based on commercial yellow cake mixes, which have built-in tenderness. I didn't try any of these, but Panik did and said she hadn't found a winner yet.

This recipe comes from “;America's Best Lost Recipes”; (2007, America's Test Kitchen), by the editors of Cook's Country magazine, a group that tests, tests and retests recipes.

To keep going on the theme of magic, this recipe seems to incorporate some. You put your cake in a cold oven, which seems to fly in the face of all the basic advice we've all been given about baking: Always preheat.

This cold-oven business, the editors say, came from the early 1900s, when most ovens were gas and it was important to conserve fuel. But it also works, developing a cake with a “;a nice crust and delicate crumb.”; They tested the recipe in a preheated oven and an oven slightly warm from recent use. In both cases they got lesser results.

I had a happy accident with my cake: When unmolding it, a big chunk broke off. I stuck it back on, and such is the magical moistness of this cake that it has adhesive qualities — the pieces fused together overnight, enough that the cake was presentable and could be sliced and served without falling apart.

This cake has a lovely, light taste that deepens and improves after a day or so. A spoonful of whipped cream, ice cream or fruit, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar would be a nice touch, but the cake is addictive as is.

 

COLD OVEN POUND CAKE

3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim or 1 percent milk (do not use whole milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar

Grease and flour a 12-cup tube or bundt pan.

Whisk together flour and salt. Whisk milk, vanilla and egg yolks in large measuring cup. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Set aside.

Beat butter, shortening and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour and milk mixture alternately in 2 batches, beating after each addition until combined. Fold in egg whites.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and place in cold oven, on rack in middle position. Turn oven on to 300 degrees and bake 45 minutes.

Increase oven heat to 325 and bake another 45 minutes, until cake tests done. Cool cake in pan 20 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen, then turn cake onto a rack to cool completely. Cake may be kept at room temperature up to three days.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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