Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Dark Chocolate & Apricot

Don't tell me it's wrong to want to wake up on Sunday morning and do absolutely nothing until at least 1pm. Can I just make some tea, eat a piece of cake and put my feet up all before noon? I don't want a green smoothie or kale salad right now. I just want cake.

Even if the sun is shining and I could totally get to the beach, I just want to sit here with my piece of cake. Do you get me?

Sometimes doing nothing is more than enough. To quote my grandmother "I'm tired for doing nothing". I get it Nonna. You were wise.

Sometimes doing nothing can be exhausting in itself because when your body does nothing your brain does everything. Thinking is grueling.

This cake is my break. Baking is my meditation.

With lots of practice it becomes completely instinctual, to the point where I can barely remember doing it. 

Beat butter with sugar. Beat in eggs. Beat in vanilla. Scrape down the bowl.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly beat into creamed mixture. Fold in the good stuff. Lick the spoon.

I can do this no matter how hard it is to keep my eyes open, before I even have a coffee and no matter how much my feet ache. This is passion.

Pound Cake is something I've learned to enjoy. It's sturdy, substantial and just soft enough. It stands up to some light toasting and a shmear of peanut butter. It is a pastry cook's substitute for sliced bread at breakfast.

I'm a sucker for dark chocolate and apricot. That bitterness + tang means well together.

A true pound cake contains no liquid other than eggs. You can find some recipes that use a bit of milk or sour cream, and this will lend moistness to the crumb. But again - not a true pound cake. 

The trick to making a pound cake that is not dry is careful mixing in the end and precise baking time. If it's over-baked, there's no turning back. Every minute counts. You need to carefully watch it and retrieve it just as a skewer comes out clean. If under-baked, it can sink during cooling leaving you with a flat, dense brick that may have that gummy layer along the base.

To compliment the tangy apricots, I use some cream cheese in place of butter - a cream cheese pound cake! The dense protein in the cheese helps to stabilize the structure too.

The crust is dark and the crumb is creamy white.

I love this. I love you. Maybe you will love this too and we can all love each other. Me + you + cake.


Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Dark Chocolate & Apricot
Makes 8-10 servings

1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
7 tbsp (100g) unsalted butter, room temperature
100g cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup (135g) caster sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
zest of a lemon (optional)
70g dark chocolate, chopped
60g chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 22x11-cm rectangular loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar on high speed using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add the cream cheese and beat until very light and airy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until silky and creamy.

Add the flour mixture and fold in just until incorporated. Gently fold in chopped chocolate and apricots. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 mins. Keep an eye on it and don't let it over-bake. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool in pan for about 20 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and cool completely.

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