Better Eggnog Pound Cake

It's not often that I love a recipe straight out of the cookbook. Typically I make it the way the recipe says once, then fix it to my satisfaction the next go round. This pound cake is no exception. The first one was good but not quite perfect. This time I nailed it. It's about ingredients, the way I mixed them, and having the perfect pan for the desired result. Here's the finished recipe, modified from the original I found in the November 1990 issue of Southern Living magazine.

Kristina's Eggnog Pound Cake

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 c. granulated sugar
6 lg. eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 c. commercial dairy eggnog 
3 c. all-purpose flour (spooned into dry measuring cup and carefully leveled off; sift if necessary)
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan, place on baking sheet and set aside.

Using a heavy duty mixer, beat butter at medium  speed for 1-2 minutes until pale and fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flavorings and mix just until incorporated.

Whisk nutmeg into flour. With mixer at low speed, slowly add flour to creamed mixture alternately with eggnog, beginning and ending with flour. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan and tap sharply on counter to level and remove air bubbles. Place on baking sheet. Bake in preheated over for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before removing from pan; place on cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Yield: 1 10-in. cake, serves 16.

Tips for success:
1. I used Weigel's brand eggnog (my favorite), but Mayfield is also good. Or use eggnog from a  premium local dairy in your area. Don't use a mediocre grocery store brand.
2. No cheating, use real butter!
3. Beat the butter/sugar mixture longer than you think you need to for a nice fluffy cake. Beat the mixture less than you think you need to when adding the flour or your cake with rise excessively, then fall when cooling. Not cool!
4. Using a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer makes a big difference when mixing a cake this large and dense. A little hand-held mixer just won't cut it.
5. Butter and flour the tube pan very, very well. This is not the time to use non-stick cooking spray, so just don't! I used a fancy fluted tube pan the first time around and it was less than optimal. A standard tube (angel food cake) pan is best.
6. I used grated nutmeg from a bottle. If you grate fresh nutmeg yourself you may only need 1/16 tsp. to get the noggy flavor we all love. Don't overdo the nutmeg.
7. Dust the cake with powdered sugar for presentation. You don't need anything else, but you could serve it with sweetened whipped cream or a rum/brandy sauce. The flavor is even better if the cake rests for 24 hours after baking. YUM!

Comments

  1. Why not use Baker's Joy? Just curious-----and can I use cake flour?

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  2. If you look at the ingredients in Baker's Joy (soybean oil, isobutane propellant -- that's a hydrocarbon kind of like lighter fluid, hydroxylated soy lecithin, etc.) you might appreciate why I recommend real butter. Pound cake is, at it's essence, simple authentic ingredients -- butter, sugar, eggs, & flour. I prefer those same ingredients for prepping the pan. It shows in the finished texture of the cake. Cake flour is different from all-purpose flour and is not well-suited for a pound cake. Your texture won't be the same.

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