What does one do when one goes to an 18th Century Quebec Marketplace? Learn to weave, blacksmith, and sample honey wines, I suppose. That’s what I did a few months ago, anyway, and have had a bottle of bottle of Blueberry Honey Wine being saved for a special occasion ever since. The opportunity came when I moved, but then all the little details of moving overcame my need to celebrate the actual move. finally I decided to make a recipe I’d wanted to try for awhile. From my favourite cookbook, “Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts”, I found a recipe for a buttermilk pound cake with an optional variation of a liqueur soak and liqueur glaze. Originally calling for rum and brandy, two things I don’t usually keep around, I decided to substitute the honey wine, which was definitely sweet enough, and hopefully flavourful enough.
The poundcake in itself was incredible. So light and fluffy. Like pie dough, the trick was to have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Buttermilk (or plain yogurt. I used probiotic, even though the probiotics get killed when baked, thus I get a little stomach sick. You could use soy or sheep or goat’s milk yogurt if you can find it and can digest it)
Loaf pan, bundt pan or tube pan
Seems like a basic recipe but it’s the quantities that make the difference. Using the minimum amount of fats to maintain the silky texture and delicate flavour of the cake.
The flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder get whisked in a large bowl. The egg and egg whites in another. Vanilla and buttermilk in another. Working quickly while the eggs still have their air, cut the butter into pieces in a large bowl and beat for 1 minute (an entire minute, yes) to soften. I do not question this book. Gradually add the sugar and beat on high for 3 minutes. Again a long time. If you have a stand mixer, not a hand mixer, your arm will thank you. Dribble eggs in slowly, mixing for about 3 minutes. On low, beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk (yogurt) mixture on medium speed. Back to low speed to beat in half the remaining flour, then high for the rest of the buttermilk. Finish on low with the flour.
Summary of mixing:
1. Make sure the butter is extremely creamy pre- and post-sugar addition.
2. Add the eggs incredible slowly.
3. Alternate the flour and yogurt additions
4. Add vanilla only at the end.
5. Takes a grand total of 11-15 minutes, depending on whether you have to reach far and wide for the yogurt or flour bowl. You don’t want to have to turn off the mixer at all. The more air you keep in the cake, the fluffier it will be.
Scrape the batter into a pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.
Loaf pan: 65-70 minutes
Tube pan: 35-40 minutes
Bundt pan: …it doesn’t say…use your toothpick skills
While the cake is baking prepare the liquor soak: 6 tbsp. blueberry honey wine (or flavoured liqueur of choice) and 2 tbsp. sugar should be simmered for two minutes in a small saucepan. Set aside
Glaze: 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbsp. blueberry honey wine stirred in a bowl. No alcohol will be boiled off here, so maybe don’t offer it to children for breakfast, but what do I know about children?
Unmold the cake over a rack (I used the rack from the toaster oven) placed over a plate. Stab the cake all over with a skewer, and spoon the liquor soak over the top of the cake. Remove the rack and collect the excess soak. Replace the rack and pour the soak again. Repeat until all the liquid syrup is absorbed. Then brush the glaze over the top and sides of cake (Do the top first so the crumbs from the side don’t make it look messy), and cool completely before serving. Letting it sit overnight enhances the flavour of the soak, but it will be every tempting to try it right away.
How I love this cookbook. At first I was a little disappointed by the flavour of the cake. I wanted more blueberry and less sugar. I thought maybe I’d add a little lemon next time to the soak, but after a few days the flavour got better. I would still consider the lemon, but the cake was oh so good on it’s own, that I didn’t mind too much. Perfection can still be achieved. A reason to make more pound cake.