Apple-Vanilla Pound Cake
“On special Sundays when I was growing up, my mom would serve us toasted slices of Sara Lee pound cake. I savored every tender, buttery bite, sometimes slicing my piece even thinner and running it through the toaster again to get more crunchy bits. When I started working for François Payard, one of the top pastry chefs in America, at his eponymous Payard Patisserie, one of the first recipes I learned was French-style pound cake. He instructed me to whip the eggs and sugar together until light and voluminous and gently fold in in melted butter and a touch of heavy cream. Dry ingredients were even more gently folded in after that to preserve the airy foam, and the cake baked off soft and tender with a much lighter crumb than what I was used to. As fond as my memories of my Sundays with Sara are, this light-as-a-cloud cake has become my preferred way to make and eat pound cake.” — Joanne Chang
Makes 1 loaf. Recipe is excerpted from “Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes ©2019 by Joanne Chang.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean
3 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs at room temperature
¾ cup superfine sugar
1¼ cups cake flour, sifted after measuring
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or butter and flour the pan. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the vanilla seeds and whisk in the cream and vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and superfine sugar until thick and lemony colored, 4 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed. While the eggs and sugar are whipping, sift and stir together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. When the egg-sugar mixture is thick, add the flour mixture and gently fold it in by hand using a rubber spatula.
4. Scoop a few large spoonfuls of the batter into the butter mixture and stir to combine well. Once the butter mixture is lightened, add it to the batter and fold until completely combined.
5. Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Layer and shingle the apple across the top in two rows. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan midway through the baking time, until the cake peeking out around the apple on top is golden-brown and firm when you press it in the middle, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes, then remove it from the pan and sift a bit of confections’ sugar on top. Using a very sharp serrated knife, gently slice through the apple and cake and serve. Pound cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.