Monday, July 12, 2010
Mini Vanilla Bean Pound Cakes
This week's project with the Heavenly Cake Baker was Mini Vanilla Bean Pound Cakes. Pound cake is one of my favorite cakes and coupled with the star ingredient vanilla bean, I was looking forward to this from the time I spotted it on the schedule of projects. The cake in this version is soaked with a vanilla Cognac syrup too, yum! Pound cake is a British creation dating back to the 1700's. The original recipe used one pound each of eggs, butter, sugar, and flour. No leaveners were used except for the air whipped into the batter. Over the years the ratio of these ingredients has changed and leaveners are used to lighten it up a bit. The pound cake is very versatile and has many variations and versions. Rose Levy Bernanbaum, author of the lovely, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" gives the baker a short ingredient list, nothing complex for technique and flavor that raises the bar on this version to excellent. So lets talk. The star ingredient here is the vanilla bean, two to be exact. Then there is sugar, eggs, milk, cake flour (yes, a fine crumb), leavening, salt, butter (of course) and vanilla extract. The vanilla beans are to be split and scrapped into the sugar and rubbed to distribute evenly (.a.k.a: vanilla sugar which on its own can be used in many applications). The liquid ingredients are mixed together as are the dry ingredients. Then the butter is added to the half the liquid mixture followed by the dry ingredients and the balance of the liquid. See? Simple......remember the vanilla and the delicate cumb is what makes these little cakes so special. As the cakes cool a vanilla Cognac syrup is prepared. I used Vanilla Schnapps in place of the Cognac along with sugar and water. After bringing the mixture to a boil remove it from the heat. Cover and cool. Once the cakes are cooled the syrup is brushed over the cakes. This cake rates high on my list. It was a breeze to prepare, the fine crumb and moist cake was delicious. The syrup inhanced the beautiful vanilla flavor. This is truly a keeper as "J" would say.