Pound cakes have long been the bane of my existence. Don't get me wrong - I don't mind a hefty slice of the cake myself, and, in fact, it was the first cake I baked. Ever.
I can still remember pulling that 9x7" pan out of the oven at 11 at night, watching the steam rise as I cut into the browned and cracked crust, taking a bite of the rich, buttery flavor of the cake alongside my mum. But, I can also recall having to wipe and scrub and wash the mixing bowls and all too-many utensils, having to mop the butter and flour off counter top, walls and floors, finally tumbling to bed dusted in flour.
Never again, I told myself, shall I bake again on a school night.
Despite that, I relented. After all, nothing quite beats a good slice of cake for breakfast that's still fresh from the night before. It was almost addictive, the buttery crumb that had an almost pillowy texture despite the denseness. Sweet, but not too sugary. Dense, but not too heavy. Occasionally with a handful of coconut thrown in. Always served warm and toasty.
Still, there was an underlying current of dread at the thought of having to clean up afterwards, to have to arduously wipe and scrub bowl after bowl in the late hours of the night. That, combined with the agonizingly long minutes taken by the cake to bake, sealed the deal. The stand mixer was relegated to the back of the cupboard, taken out only for that special occasion.
Not too long ago (like really, last-week long ago), I had a slice of what can be described as one of the nicest slices of lemon pound cake with the zestiest icing I've ever had. The texture of that cake, oh, it was glorious. Spongy crumb with just the right balance between butter and lemon. And amidst all that, it smelt so exquisite, so olfactory-ly stimulating, it must be better than Santal 33. So good, I said. that I've got to make some cake.
And so I did.
This almond pound cake has, as its name suggests, almonds. I find that the almond meal adds a nice density and firmness to the crumb, and at the same time prevents it from being overly moist (as many pound cakes are). It's quite a versatile cake - I found a cup of sugar to be sweet enough, but of course, if you'd like to reduce or increase it, its your call. So is adding wholewheat flour to the mix, though I suggest replacing a maximum of half of the flour with wholewheat, since using 100% wholewheat tends to make it quite heavy.
It's nice on its own, but if you'd like to kick it up a notch (or serve it as dessert), I'd recommend the strawberry compote. It's a small-batch recipe that you can whip up in - I kid you not - five minutes and with a fewer number of ingredients than the fingers on your left hand. It retains it's natural sweetness and flavor, since using only a tablespoon of sugar takes the acidic edge off the strawberries but doesn't overdo it. You might notice that I added a little basil to it, and strange as that sounds, basil works great with strawberries, (and was also an opportunity to use up the basil that dad bought and I couldn't find a purpose for).
Almond POund Cake + Strawberry Compote
Yields a 9x5" loaf & a cup of compote
time taken: 1 hour 20 minutes / prep time: 30 mins / bake time: 50 mins
This post was done in collaboration with The Mlk Co.
That being said, all opinions are mine, and I think that they rock.
To be continued.