• Sarah O'Kelley

Summer Baking: Pound Cake

Updated: Feb 3


In my former life (rewind 10 years) I owned a restaurant and did all of the baking. It actually all started with my very grassroots pound cake business in New Orleans. There, I had decided I could survive on selling seasonal pound cakes to friends’ restaurants and free-lance writing (I was young and naive!)


But I tackled this full force and even went so far as to have business cards made that read “Sweet Sarah’s Pound Cakes” -- featuring a retro looking lady in full 1950s homecook regalia. On the back I listed my seasonal flavors: Lemongrass Vanilla, Chocolate Strawberry, and Café au Lait to name a few.


These days that feels like a lifetime ago, but sometimes I get that old itch to break out the Bundt pan, sifter, and cake flour! I just recently made my “famed” Lemongrass Vanilla Pound Cake, and it lived up to all my sensory memories. (Side note: in my wine classes I always talk about the ability of smell to transport you back in time. Smell is the one sense that goes directly to the emotional center of our brain!)


Well, this cake did just that -- the soothing tropical aromas of lemongrass combined with the homey vanilla took me back to my little New Orleans cottage on Bayou Road. The lemongrass plant basically took over my courtyard -- inspiring this recipe.

This time I served the cake with sliced South Carolina peaches and a dollop of whipped cream. And for a moment I was able to savor past and present together.


Here’s the recipe for anyone wanting to take a break from the summer heat and spend some time in the AC baking the day away. I have always loved the basic pound cake recipe created by Cook’s Illustrated that uses a food processor instead of a stand mixer. It’s easier and makes an equally delicious cake!


Lemongrass Vanilla Pound Cake

2 ½ cups sugar

8 farm eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 teaspoons salt

1 pound unsalted butter, melted

3 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Combine sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a food processor. Mix until combined. While running pour butter into mixture and continue running until thoroughly combined. Pour this mixture into a large mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients, whisking as you go. Pour batter into pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Release from pan and brush with plenty of glaze. (You really want to saturate the cake!) Once cool cut into 16 slices.


Delicious on its own (even toasted for breakfast.) But for an elegant summer dessert garnish with fresh peaches or berries and whipped cream! YUM!


GLAZE:

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

Lots of chopped lemongrass (as much as 1 cup)

2 teaspoons vanilla


Combine water, sugar, and lemongrass in a small pot and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves and syrup forms. Simmer while cake bakes (about an hour.) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. This will yield more syrup than you need for your cake, but it is easier to make in a large batch and leftovers are terrific for cocktails or drizzled over fresh fruit! Store leftover syrup in an airtight container in the fridge.

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