My mind moves in extremely lateral zig-zags at times. I was contemplating the beautiful spectacle of the flowering cherry tree in my garden, with its white blossoms drifting onto the surface of the pond, and rather than a haiku springing forth, I immediately decided that I needed to make a cherry pound cake.
This pound cake recipe, with its buttery crumb, and delicious nuggets of kirsch-soaked cherries, comes from one of my most-used baking books, “The Cake Book” by Tish Boyle. I have hundreds of cookbooks; some for reference, some for gastroporn, with their titillating pictures of gourmet fantasies, some for that moment when I have to have Indian, or Thai or Russian food. And then there are the ones that are my kitchen workhorses. The books I turn to when I want to make something and be assured that the recipes will always work, and the results will always be worth the effort. The Cake Book is right there in the Top Ten amongst my baking books.
With pound cake, the devil is in the details. Of the times I’ve encountered pound cake here in New Zealand, it’s often been greasy, coarse-textured or overly sweet. After puzzling this over, I’ve realized that most pound cake recipes are American in origin. And American homes are warmer than the average Kiwi home. And pound cakes rely on well-creamed butter (or in this case, butter and cream cheese) for their velvety texture, which is hard to achieve with butter that is cold. So, for Kiwi cooks, cut the butter into cubes, warm the kitchen up, and let the butter lose its chill before starting this cake. (And no, don’t pop it into the microwave. That just leaves tiny pockets of melted butter inside the cubes that will never hold the air bubbles that we need to beat in.) Continue reading