Happy 4th of July, everyone! Today the United States of America celebrates its 239th birthday, an impressive number for the land of the free and the home of the brave. Birthdays should be spent by engorging oneself in a mountain of cake, especially pound cake.
Pound cake is a moist, dense cake that was developed by our British ancestors in the 1700s. Its name is derived from its original recipe that contained one pound of butter, one pound of sugar, one pound of eggs, and one pound of flour.
Luckily the recipes have evolved over time, because the cake would be humongous.
In the late 1800s, the pound cake became a common dessert in the southern United States. Leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda were added into recipes in the 1900s.
My recipe does not contain any leavening agents, but I added some cream cheese for richness. It also has my secret weapons- vanilla beans and clove.
Vanilla beans add a sweet, creamy, milky, almost candy-like taste to desserts. Vanilla beans sit inside the pods of the vanilla orchid, Vanilla planifolia. For this reason, vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world. The pods are green when they’re harvested, but they turn dark brown upon aging, drying, and curing.
Cloves are not grown in orchids, but instead come from flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. They create a warm, spicy, zingy flavor to any dish. (I feel like I put a bit of Thanksgiving into a recipe every time I use cloves). The flower buds are picked when they are pink, but drying the buds turns them brown as well. The flavor profile of cloves comes from the essential oil that it produces.
Both vanilla and clove have high amounts of manganese, a trace element found in the human body that aids processes such as metabolism, formation of connective tissue, and functioning of the nerves and brain. In complementary medicine, vanilla and clove are used to aid upset stomach, gas, and fever. Clove is also thought to be an expectorant for coughing, as well as an analgesic for pain relief.
For these reasons, my friends, don’t be stunned by the nutrition facts of this cake. You may be able to use it to relieve your tummy, and aid your pain.
Well, probably not, but at least this cake will feed your soul!
I went all-out for this holiday, and made a cream topping and raspberry glaze for the top of the cake. Happy baking!
For the pound cake: 1 cup butter (softened), 1/2 cup coconut oil (softened), 8 oz. cream cheese (softened), 2 cups light brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, 6 eggs, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla beans, 1/4 tsp dried ground cloves, 3 cups all-purpose flour
For the raspberry glaze: 12 oz (3/4 pint) of raspberries, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup water
For the cream topping: 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar, blueberries for garnish
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Soften the butter, cream cheese, and coconut oil in the microwave. Move the softened items to a large bowl. Beat them together using a hand or stand mixer.
Add the brown and white sugar, 1 cup at a time, until it’s fully creamed into the softened mixture. Once the items are creamed together, add the eggs, 2 at a time, until they are fully incorporated into the batter.
Mix the salt, vanilla beans, and clove into the batter. Then add the flour 1 cup at time until it becomes light and fluffy.
I used a fancy giant cupcake mold (thanks, mom!) to create the shape of the cake. However, any 10″ round pound or square pan will do the trick.
Grease the pan, and place all the batter into it.
This is where the timing gets tricky- since I did not use a normally shaped pan, I honestly don’t know how long it takes for the cake to be finished. It needs a minimum of 1 hour for the cake to turn golden brown, with a clean knife or toothpick coming out of the center when inserted. However, it took my cake a total of 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to bake.
I did not use a cooling rack because the cake was too delicate and would have fallen through the cracks. Instead I cooled it on a heat-safe plate and flipped it over a few times in order to avoid condensation from developing on the underside of the cake.
While the cake is cooling, place the raspberries and honey in a saucepan. Add water, and reduce the raspberry glaze until all the water has dissolved and you are left with a thickened liquid mixture. Place the glaze in the refrigerator once it is cooled.
Add half a cup of sour cream to a bowl. Mix in 2 Tbsp of confectioner’s sugar. Place this in the refrigerator until the cake has cooled.
Once the cake has completely cooled, start to build your 4th of July flag! Create your design any way you like. I tried to decorate my cake like a giant red-white-and-blue cupcake, but I didn’t spread the glaze correctly. Epic fail! Instead I cut the cake and made each slice look like a mini flag.
This is such a fun dessert to celebrate anyone’s birthday, especially America’s. Have a happy holiday, and take some time to appreciate our freedom and accomplishments.
© The Baking Tour Guide