Wednesday, June 23, 2010

High-Ratio Pound Cake

This is my favorite pound cake and it's so easy to make! It's from Nick Malgieri's Perfect Cakes. This is one of the cakes I use for petits fours. *See note below for explanation of "high ratio."

2 1/2 cp (10 oz/300g) bleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1 3/4 cp (14 oz/350g) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cp milk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Set a rack in the lower third of th eoven and preheat to 350F.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and beat on the lowest speed for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients are well combined.

Meanwhile, whisk all the remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well combined.

Increase the mixer speed to medium, add one-third of the liquid ingredients, and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater. Add another third of the liquid, beat for 2 minutes, and scrape again. Finally, add the remaining liquid and beat and scrape as before.

Use a large rubber spatula to give the batter a final vigorous stir, then scrape it into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes in a 12-cup Bundt pan, buttered and floured, or until a toothpick inserted int the cake halfway between the side of th epan and the central tube emerges clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto the rack t finish cooling.

Yield: 7 cups of batter (perfect for petits fours made in 12 x8 x 1 pan)

*High-Ratio Cakes (from Perfect Cakes, pg 44)
A high-ratio cake is one in which the weight of the sugar equals or exceeds the weight of the flour. (This applies to many pound and butter cakes, but not all). The high proportion of sugar can make the batter separate, resultin in a coarse texture in the baked caked. The "high ratio" mixing method, developed in the 1940s by Procter and Gamble, prevents the batter from separating and yilds a particularly fine textured cake.

Basically, you first mix all the dry ingredients with the softened butter. Then the liquids, including the eggs, are combined and added in three parts. The resulting baked cake has a great texture and moist crumb. To convert a recipe to the high-ratio method of mixing, first check to see if the sugar equals or exceeds the flour: calculate 8 ounces for a cup of sugar and 4 ounces for a cup of all-purpose flour. If and only if the recipe passes the test, you can combine all the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl, add the softened butter, and beat for 2 minutes on low speed. The add the liquids, mixed together , one-third at a time, beating for 2 minutes on medium speed between each addition.

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