Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pound Cake in the Tropics

I am back down at sea level for the next few weeks, visiting family in Florida. Since I’m here, I think I’ll try to make a few recipes here that can function as kind of “control” recipes in this experimentation process. We’re all about the strict Scientific Method around here.

I got out my grandmother’s KitchenAid standing mixer. I could have used my mother’s, since she has a perfectly good one, but I really wanted to try my grandmother’s and see how it behaves because I might wind up taking it back to NM with me. No one can remember exactly when she bought it but it must have been about 20 years ago. That thing has seen some WORK. She was using it every few days until her death 18 months ago and since then it had only been used once. I dragged it out and cleaned it. It was so encrusted with ancient flour that I practically had to get a chisel to get it really clean, but now it’s back in use and seems happy, if a little out of practice, much like my ass at the gym.

Since I am, in fact, trying to bake in a systematic way and cause myself as much frustration as possible, I made the same pound cake recipe that I made at 7,000 feet last week. This time it unmolded from the pan perfectly (hooray!) with no rubber mallet pounding required, but the texture was still not exactly what I had hoped for. Last week, the cake had a heavy sort of “ring” around the bottom (previously the top until I flipped it to unmold it) where the batter seemed to have settled and become much too dense. This time there was one little over-dense spot that ran through it, much like a river. I believe this might have been because my ingredients got a little too warm when I left them to come to room temperature. Butter and eggs should both be around 60 degrees F when you use them, and I think mine were closer to 70. Additionally, the crust is a little tough. I have heard that this can be due to overmixing. I think using the larger, more powerful mixer was a good thing as far as this recipe goes, but I’m going to be very careful not to overmix the next time I make this… which might be a while since I am about pound-caked out for the time being!