Ginger Pound Cake
I recently came across the cutest mini bundt pan ever - a 6 cup version of the normal behemoth - that i just had to snatch up and try! I christened the pan with a ginger pound cake recipe I found in the Cook's Illustrated New Best Recipes cookbook.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:We retooled the classic pound cake recipe to make it ultra-plush every time. Our first big discovery was to start with chilly 60-degree butter, since room-temperature butter became too warm after all the creaming that was needed to combine the large quantities of butter and sugar in the cake. We found the eggs also needed to be at 60 degrees so they would not deflate the batter as they were added. Finally, we chose cake flour (all-purpose flour was too protein-rich and delivered dry, tough cakes), but the flour's softness required that we not overwork the batter when adding the flour. Sifting the flour over the batter and folding it in by hand was the method that worked best.
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold, plus extra for greasing pan
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour, plus extra for dusting pan
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and place in bowl of standing mixer; let stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes to soften slightly (butter should reach no more than 60 degrees). Using dinner fork, beat eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in liquid measuring cup until combined. Let egg mixture stand at room temperature until ready to use.
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter 9 by 5-inch loaf pan; dust pan liberally with flour and knock out excess.
3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and salt at medium-high speed until shiny, smooth, and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, gradually pour in sugar (this should take about 60 seconds). Once all sugar is added, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is fluffy and almost white in color, 5 to 8 minutes, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once. With mixer running at medium speed, gradually add egg mixture in slow, steady stream; this should take 60 to 90 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl; beat mixture at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes (mixture may look slightly broken). Remove bowl from mixer; scrape bottom and sides.
4. In 3 additions, sift flour over butter/egg mixture; after each addition, fold gently with rubber spatula until combined. Scrape along bottom of bowl to ensure that batter is homogenous.
5. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until golden brown and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 70 to 80 minutes. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes; invert cake onto wire rack, then turn cake right side up. Cool cake on rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Slice and serve.
To get the lovely ginger flavor, add 3 tablespoons of minced crystallized ginger, 1 1/2 tsp of ground ginger and 1/2 tsp of mace (it's a spice) after you finish adding the egg mixture. The crystallized ginger will be super sticky and annoying to mince, but once it goes in it combined really well and doesn't end up lumpy. This recipe's worth of batter fit my small bundt pan perfectly. I had greased the living daylights out of it as well as floured it beyond all reason, and the cake slid out like a charm. With some fresh strawberries for garnish and maybe a little whipped cream, this cake tastes like a mouthful of summer!