From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This cake will go down in family annuls as one that nearly rent years of marital bliss. It is a brown butter pound cake that is made with a copious amount of bourbon. It was made for a derby day party that we, in the end, could not attend, but for which I had committed a dessert. I decided to make this cake because it was unusual, mercifully easy to make, and its use of bourbon would connect it to Derby Day and the state of Kentucky. Now, before I go any further, I must tell you that I don't know a lot about hard liqueur. Bourbon is bourbon as far as I'm concerned, so, in the course of making this cake, I grabbed the first bottle I found in the pantry and went about my work. It turns out I grabbed a bottle of special "sippin' whiskey" that the Silver Fox keeps on hand for a friend who visits us sporadically. I was glibly pouring a cup and a half of something called Jefferson's Presidential Select into the cakes, when my beloved walked into the kitchen and did the guy version of nearly fainting. Apparently, I was using the champagne of bourbons in my pound cakes. Who knew? Were the cakes worth it? The brown butter gives the cake a unique richness and nutty flavor. The bourbon keeps it really moist and its flavor blends nicely with the butter. The cake lacks eye appeal, so, for the party, I decided to use it as a base for peach shortcake. It would also make a wonderful trifle, but I don't think it works as a stand alone dessert. If you decide to try this cake, make it a full 24 hours before you plan to serve it. The recipe makes way more syrup than is needed for one cake, so you can safely cut the quantities for the syrup in half. If you like the flavor of brown butter you will enjoy this cake. Here's the recipe.
Brown Butter and Bourbon Pound Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of R.J. Cooper and the James Beard Foundation
Cake1-1/4 cup (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Syrup1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean split
1/4 cup bourbon
1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and lightly flour an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan.
2) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat until milk solids on bottom are a dark chocolate brown and butter smells nutty. Transfer to a shallow bowl and place in freezer to cool until just congealed. (Butter should be somewhat solid for mixing stage.)
3) Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
4) Beat congealed brown butter, bourbon, and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
5) Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Smooth out top and rap pan on counter to settle batter. Bake until cake is golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about an hour.
6) Meanwhile, to make syrup: Combine sugar, water, and vanilla bean in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in bourbon.
7) When cake is done, remove from oven and let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto a rack and let cool completely, right side up, for an hour, brushing the pound cake with the syrup every 5 minutes.
Yield: 1 loaf.
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