I know it can be a little disturbing to know that I baked in the midst of Chinese New Year, when there are already countless of baked goodies lying around in the kitchen, and more awaiting when we go relative- and friend-visiting over the next couple of days. But really, the irony is that because we are so lucky to have so many different types of CNY goodies, I craved for something different. Pineapple tarts, almond cookies, peanut crisps, love letters for me? No thank you.
I was in the supermarket earlier and spied on something that revoked a fond childhood memory - me surrounding my mother, awaiting eagerly for the icy-cold and semi-frozen slice of Sara Lee pound cake, having been frozen and just thawed enough to cut them into slices. We seldom were given "cold" treats so those moments were rare and cherished.
I made a "Cashew-Espresso Pound Cake" based on a "master pound cake" recipe by Sherry Yard. Her recipe is simple yet she highlights the need for patience to prepare as no leavening agent is used and the cake would have to rise entirely from the air you eventually beat into the mixture. Though this is my time making this recipe, I went with my gut feel (literally), as I wanted something coffee-flavoured for my afternoon coffee break. I added expresso powder and fried cashew nut and the results were not only beautiful to look at but wonderfully satisfying the taste buds. Little bits of cashew nuts can be seen, their physical forms balancing out the overall smooth and dense texture. My cake was supposed to turn out lighter because I used cake over all-purpose flour. In any case, I rather like my result; it was definitely dense and not crumbly, yet not lead-heavy dense.
There was such a wonderful aroma tempting me while the cake was cooling. As soon as I could handle the loaf, nothing could come between me , my coffee and cake. Satisfied, I froze a good half of it, anticipating a repeat of history, except this time, I would be the one slicing and feeding a slice to my mother.
Cashew-Espresso Pound Cake
(makes a 9"x5" loaf)
8 oz all-purpose or cake flour (sifted 3 times)
3/4 cup roasted cashew nuts, chopped
8 oz unsalted butter, softened
8 oz granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
2. Line a 9"x5" loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the paper.
3. Beat butter on high until soft and creamy, about 1 min.
4. Add sugar slowly, over a period of 5-6 mins, beating on high speed.
(remember to scrape the sides periodically; end result should be almost white, light and fluffy.)
5. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg thoroughly before adding the next.
6. Add vanilla extract and coffee powder. Mix to incorporate.
7. Add flour and nuts slowly, 1/2 cup at a time.
8. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread the mixture.
9. Bake for 50-70 mins, until toothpick comes out clean.
(If the top is browning too quickly, cover with foil and continue baking.)