What an honor it is to have my good friend and colleague, Chef Laurie Pfalzer, guest post today on Karista’s Kitchen. Not only is Chef Laurie Pfalzer one of the most talented and brilliant Pastry Chef’s of our time, she’s an impressive and passionate culinary educator.
Chef Laurie Pfalzer founded the pastry school, Pastry Craft, with a list of hands on classes that bring a wealth of knowledge and professional techniques to the passionate home chef.
I met Laurie several years ago while working with our local culinary school, PCC Cooks; we instantly became friends. I so admire Laurie’s love of pastry, but as well, her love and commitment for culinary education – demystifying pastry and baking for home chef’s. If you live in the Seattle area, you can find a list of Chef Laurie’s classes here. If you live outside the Seattle area and would love to snag a few of Chef Laurie’s delicious recipes, check out her website here.
With love and thanks my friend for creating this most decadent dessert for Karista’s Kitchen!
Classic Pound Cake with Rum Raisin Sauce – by Chef Laurie Pfalzer of Pastry Craft
Last week I started thinking about rum raisins. I couldn’t get them off my mind and I wasn’t sure why. It’s cold and dreary outside and maybe that prompted me to think about this comforting combination. Maybe it was also all of the raisins (both dark and golden) in my cupboard, leftovers from the holidays. Thinking like a restaurant pastry chef, I needed to use what I had on hand.
But what to pair with the rum raisins? Ice cream? A frozen mousse I remembered from my Nantucket days at The Wauwinet? Classic Pound Cake? Yes! The name says it all to describe the original cake made with a pound of everything – one pound butter, one pound granulated sugar, one pound eggs and one pound flour, and no leavener (baking powder or baking soda). Before leaveners there was creaming (butter and sugar that is). After some years of bakers making this classic cake, baking soda and baking powder came into common use and bakers and home cooks started using them to lighten the crumb, as well as change-up the ingredients. To go back to the original though and understand exactly how pound cake works is a fun experiment – as well as a tasty one.
Pound cake is all about creaming butter and sugar. I find myself talking about the creaming technique in many of my baking classes because it is one of the major mixing techniques. (You’ve probably done it many times.) Room temperature butter and sugar are brought together and mixed well to create tiny air pockets. (I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle at high-speed or you can do it by hand with a lot of elbow grease.) The more air created, the more rise and better crumb you will have in your cake. Usually, a recipe will say, “cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy”. That’s the signal that you can let the mixer go at high-speed for several minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. The mixture will become almost white as air is incorporated. This is the key to any pound cake, but particularly to a Classic Pound Cake that relies only on creaming to create air. The result is a yellow cake, beautifully risen with its trademark “crack” on the top and a consistent, fine-textured crumb. Be aware that Classic Pound Cake is more dense and drier than pound cake you might be used to. This makes it a great accompaniment to a cup of tea, some Warm Sautéed Citrus, or the following Rum Raisin Sauce.
This simple Rum Raisin Sauce depends on Meyers Dark Rum and a little whiskey to mellow the rum, as well as a special addition – black tea. The black tea came to me as I considered the sharpness of the rum/whiskey combination. I needed another component to round out the flavor and create depth – the sugar and butter just weren’t doing it. My long-time pairing trick – I smell the main component (rum/whiskey) and then smell the possible addition (black tea) to see if it goes together. Works every time.
Serve this Classic Pound Cake at room at temperature or slightly warm, with the warm Rum Raisin Sauce spooned over the cake. Due to the density of the cake, the sauce can sit spooned over the cake for 20 minutes or so before serving. (A little whiskey whipped cream probably wouldn’t hurt either.)
Classic Pound Cake
Yield: 1 – 5 x 9 inch pound cake (serves 10)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cup (10 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 ¼ cup eggs (about 6 eggs or 10 ounces), room temperature
2 ¼ cups (10 ounces) unbleached cake flour, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Prepare a 5×9 loaf pan with a light oil spray. Then make a “sling” with parchment by cutting a piece of parchment that is just the length of the pan and extends about 1 inch over each long side of the pan. (The ends of the pan will not have parchment covering them.) This allows for easy removal from the pan later.
With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Increase the mixer speed to high and cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes, scraping the bowl and paddle at three intervals.
Scrape down the bowl once more. On medium speed add the eggs in three parts, scraping after each addition. It’s important to let each egg addition combine completely with the butter before adding the next addition.
Scrape the bowl again just before adding the flour. Add the flour all at one time. Mix on the lowest speed until the flour is almost combined. Scrape the paddle and bowl well and mix on low-speed again just until the batter is smooth and consistent (about 40 seconds).
Spoon the batter into the loaf pan. Gently smooth the top and then drop the loaf pan on the counter once to prevent air pockets.
Bake the pound cake for 45-55 minutes, or until the top springs back and is no longer wet. You can also insert a wooden skewer to see if it comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 20 minutes in the pan. With a knife, gently loosen the ends of the cake and lift out the cake by the parchment “sling”. Cool the cake on a rack. Keep the cake wrapped at room temperature or freeze it for up to two months.
Rum Raisin Sauce
1 cup (4 ounces) Meyers Dark Rum
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) whiskey (such as Jack Daniels)
¼ cup (3 ounces) honey
¼ cup (2 ounces) raw sugar, demerara sugar or brown sugar
1 cup (6 ounces) dark raisins
½ cup (3 ounces) golden raisins
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
½ vanilla bean, split
1 teaspoon black tea (such as English Breakfast)
In a medium saucepan, combine the rum, whiskey, honey and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add all of the raisins. Cover the pan and steep the raisins for one hour.
Strain out the raisins, reserving all of the liquid. Return the liquid back to the saucepan. Add the butter, salt, vanilla bean and black tea. Bring the liquid to a boil. Remove from the heat and steep uncovered for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Add the raisins back to the strained mixture. If you’re using the sauce immediately, keep it warm near the stove. Otherwise, store the rum raisins and sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator. (The raisins will take on more flavors the longer they sit in the sauce.) Re-warm the sauce slightly to serve.