I think everyone must have memories that come to mind when they taste or smell something familiar and good. Almond-flavored baked goods always have that effect on me. My mom used a lot of almond extract and almond paste in the pastries she baked over the years, so it's a flavor I love in cakes, cinnamon rolls and bread (now I just need to get Jamie on board).
My mom's side of the family is from Denmark, and my great-great aunt Elizabeth and great-great uncle Andy Yttrup, who was actually a guard for the Danish king, passed down a pound cake recipe that is unbelievably amazing. It's been years since I've tasted this cake, but I still remember it - the golden crust all around the edges, the buttery cake inside that melts on your tongue...
You wouldn't think that 3 sticks of butter, 3 cups of sugar and 6 eggs could all fit into one cake... but believe me, they can. And those eggs get beaten in for a full 5 minutes each - that's 30 minutes of mixing just for the eggs! I don't envy the person who made this cake without a stand mixer. One summer when I came home for a few months - I don't remember if it was while I was away at college, or when I was living overseas - but I requested this pound cake. Imagine my disappointment when my mom served a pound cake after dinner that night that had come from... a box mix. Sorry, mom, but you broke my heart that night! ;)
Although I'll share Uncle Andy's Pound Cake recipe with you, the cake I made last weekend was a simpler, and lighter version that my family always makes at Christmas. I thought it would be the perfect recipe to share for my final post for the FAGE Greek Yogurt promotion. (If you haven't read my previous posts on Chocolate Yogurt Pots de Creme and Toasted Coconut Cream Waffles, then please do.) Also, at the bottom of this post is a link where you can enter to win a Greek getaway - in my heart, I'm already there for a vacation next year! :) A place that's warm and sunny, serves wonderful and healthy food, and focuses on enjoying the good life sounds like the perfect vacation to me.
When I think about the things in my life that make me happy, it's all the little everyday things that add up to a life I love. The happy smile on Jamie's face when I rub or scratch his head while we're watching TV at night. The way he encourages me during our gym workouts but loves me just the way I am.
Cooking or baking something that lights up someone's eyes when they taste it.
My favorite hat on a bad hair day.
The fact that Jamie's so supportive of my love for this blog that he's willing to eat dinner slightly cold after I take too long taking photos of everything.
Making breakfast on Sunday mornings, like this french toast with honey and cinnamon.
The way a simple object we use almost every day can look completely magical and mysterious at a certain angle.
And the way the light around it changes just a few minutes later as the sun sets a little lower. Do you know what this is?
The way Jamie takes care of me - on Saturday morning, after we cleaned the condo, Jamie left to do a few errands, and while he was out, he not only checked the air pressure on a few of my tires that have been acting funny, but he surprised me by replacing the missing jack for my spare tire in my trunk, and washing and vacuuming my car for me - even though I can do all these things myself (although I tend to postpone them as long as possible), I love that he shows his love in this way.
When I made this Almond Pound Cake on Sunday, I made some changes from my mom's version (sorry again, mom!), and although I won't say it was better - or I'll get in trouble - it was so deliciously tempting that it's a good thing I'll be taking it in to work tomorrow to get eaten up. And since Jamie really doesn't like the almond flavoring, I also came up with some other flavor variations that would be just as yummy - Chocolate Chip Almond (which is what I made), Butter Pecan, Vanilla Bean, Lemon or Lemon Blueberry, and Pumpkin Pound Cake.
YUM, right? Have I tempted you to try this yet?
The cake can be made in either a Bundt pan or in two loaf pans, but it looks very pretty in a Bundt. (Speaking of Greece and Bundts, is anyone thinking of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" right about now?)
It takes a while to bake, about an hour, and you may think it's overdone because of the dark golden crust that forms on top, but trust me it's not overbaked. The cake will be perfectly soft and moist inside, and that crust is something you'll want to nibble on while the cake is cooling. To create a prettier, lighter canvas for the chocolate drizzle, I "painted" the cake with a simple powdered sugar glaze, instead of just pouring it over the cake, which gave it a nice, smooth finish to show off the chocolate. I will tell you that I was not at all happy with the chocolate glaze I made - something went wrong and it was way too thin and runny and never set up the way I wanted - maybe you can tell in the pictures that the chocolate wasn't quite right. So just keep it simple - some melted semi-sweet chocolate poured on top of the glazed cake, or a chocolate ganache, if you prefer, is all you need to show off a sprinkling of sliced almonds to top it all off.
As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway.
Danish Almond Pound Cake (with other flavor variations)
· 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
· 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
· 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
· 2 eggs, room temperature
· 2-3 teaspoons almond extract (I used 3, but I like the flavor to be pretty strong)
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
· 2 ½ cups, plus 2 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
· 1 teaspoon baking powder
· ¼ teaspoon baking soda
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1/3 cup milk
· 1 cup Greek yogurt
Glaze and Garnish:
· 1 cup powdered sugar
· 2 tablespoons milk
· 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
· 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
· ¼ cup sliced almonds
1. Chocolate Chip Almond Pound Cake – Stir 1 cup mini chocolate chips into the batter.
2. Butter Pecan Pound Cake – Omit the almond extract and increase the vanilla to 1 tablespoon. Add 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg to dry ingredients. Stir 1 cup chopped toasted pecans into the batter. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the glazed cake.
3. Vanilla Bean Pound Cake – Omit the almond extract and increase the vanilla to 1 tablespoon. Stir in the seeds of 1 vanilla bean.
4. Lemon (Blueberry) Pound Cake – Substitute lemon juice for the almond extract and add the zest of 1 lemon. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the glaze mixture (increasing powdered sugar slightly, if needed), and garnish glazed cake with lemon curls. Could also add 1 cup fresh blueberries to the batter for a lemon blueberry pound cake.
5. Pumpkin Pound Cake – Omit the almond extract and increase vanilla to 1 tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice to dry ingredients. Substitute canned pumpkin for the Greek yogurt. Drizzle glazed cake with melted white chocolate and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 1 Bundt pan or 2 standard-sized loaf pans with non-stick baking spray. (The cake is prettiest in a Bundt.)
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar for 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed, until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the almond and vanilla extracts.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and yogurt.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk/yogurt mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into pan/s and smooth out the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, and the top crust is cracked, and a deep golden brown color.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn cake out onto the wire rack. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely before glazing.
To glaze the cake, combine the powdered sugar, milk and corn syrup in a bowl until completely smooth. Using a small pastry brush, “paint” the cake evenly with the glaze in a thin layer. Don’t worry about drips at the bottom. Refrigerate the cake for 5 minutes to set the glaze. Paint a second layer of glaze, using the rest of the glaze mixture. Refrigerate cake for 5 minutes to set the 2nd layer.
Melt the chocolate, if using it, and let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Drizzle over the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Sprinkle chocolate with the sliced almonds, or other garnish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to completely set chocolate before slicing and serving. Cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container, but is best eaten within a few days.
Uncle Andy's Pound Cake
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons high-quality vanilla, or vanilla bean paste
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325. Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick baking spray.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar for at least 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as needed, until very light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each in for a full 5 minutes. This step will take 30 minutes - have patience.
Add the vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and add by spoonfuls to the batter, just until combined.
Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. Bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes), until a deep golden brown on top, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then turn cake out onto the rack or a serving plate to cool completely, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel.
Glaze cooled cake with a powdered sugar glaze, and serve with anything you like, such as chocolate, warmed fruit sauce, fresh fruit, whipped cream or ice cream.