Looking for a lip-licking Lemon Poundcake recipe, I picked up the latest Cook's Illustrated's (Jan/Feb '06) issue. No poundcake, but a "Best Lemon Bundt" on page 25. According to Cook's, poundcake has "lots" of fat and "not much" liquid, which contributes to its rich and compact crumb; a Bundt is supposed to have a moist, rich, but a tad lighter crumb, with moderate amounts of fat and liquid. From experience, a bakery-made slice of poundcake is hefty in the hand, whereas a Bundt weighs less and has visibly less moisture.
Knowing Cook's ouevre, you'd know they each article involves forming the "best" recipe from about 38 trial-and-error versions. The writers/cooks give new meaning to the "learn from your mistakes" adage. While it's hard to argue with their exhaustive methodology, I've had some beef with my results using their recipes. All ill-will aside, Cook's Illustrated is a wonderful magazine for the meticulous chef, or the curious cook with the ambitions of a pro but the trappings of a home kitchen.
Cook's Illustrated's recipe, with my alterations and notes:
A (wet 1)
Grated zest of 3 Lemons plus…
3 tbsp of lemon juice (from the 3 lemons you juiced thoroughly)
3 cups (15 ounces) ap flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
C (wet 2)
1tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk
3 large eggs PLUS 1 egg yolk [combine yolk and 3 eggs with a little whisking]
18 tbsp. (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter around room temp.
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2-3 tbsp. lemon juice [I advise you use 2 tbsp., and then whisk in another 1/2-1 tbsp. before pouring]
1 tbsp. buttermilk
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees,
- Spray baking spray with flour on a 12-cup Bundt Pan (Nordic Ware platinum-series is recommended by Cook’s. I used an older, super sturdy Nordic pan, but I felt it sucked up too heat due to its black nonstick insides).
- you need 3 small bowls (one should be at least big enough to hold all of the Dry), 1 medium (for glaze)
1. Mince the lemon zest and let it macerate in the bowl of lemon juice (remove those seeds though) for 10-15 minutes.
2. Whisk together dry B-ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
3. In a standing mixer, whip E together on medium-high for about 1 min. 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides before proceeding.
4. Place half the egg mix (D) into the bowl, and combine on low speed. Repeat with the rest of the egg mix.
5. Now, take the dry B-ingredients and put 1/3rd of that into the standing mixer. Combine A and C (the wet), and then pour half of that into the mixer.
[Yes, it’s important to not just dump it in altogether. Stay focused!] Another 1/3rd of B, and then the rest of wet A/C (buttermilk, lemon juice, and so forth).
6. Combine the last 1/3rd of dry B on low. After about 10-20 secs, very little flour should be visible – although some flour along the sides of the bowl is excusable.
7. Scrape the batter (it should be pretty thick) into the prepared Bundt pan, and work it into the pockets of the pan.
8. Bake the Bundt for 45-50 minutes. (My DARK pan went for 36; ‘twas a clean toothpick if you need to know…)
9. GLAZE: Whisk of all the glaze ingredients together in a small-medium bowl. Glaze should be thick, delicious, and pourable.
10. When the cake comes out of the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then reverse the cake onto some cooling surface. Pour 1/2 to 2/3rd of the glaze around the cake. The glaze should not just slop off the sides, it should stick in most places.
11. Allow 1 hour for cooling, and finish the cake. Then wait as long as you can (like 10 minutes) before eating the crap out of it.
Using the two exclusive glazings, the final Bundt will have a delicate white frost that presents well and holds in flavor for several days after baking. The cake should be ultra-delicious, and even if you screw up and bake some of the lemon flavor out of the cake itself, you have the delicious glaze to save you. Hooray!
The cake stayed delicious for three days. It won't last any longer, because someone will surely have eaten it by then
Check out this eGullet thread (no registration required) for more lemon cake/bar/etc recipes.