My friend Gasoline sent me this recipe nigh a year ago, and I sheepishly confess I only just got around to making it. What can I say? I go where the wind takes me. *music swells* I am free, I –
Okay, where was I?
The best darned pound cake ever, is where I was. 🙂 My mom used to make classic sour cream pound cake, and hers was the best sour cream pound cake I’ve ever had. I’ve tried making it, but she did something magical – something Mom-like – and whatever it was, it was lost with her. This recipe from Gasoline’s Aunt Gail is the best other-pound cake I’ve ever had. It’s a pound cake with freshly toasted walnuts, which I adore (though packaged toasted walnuts work just as well in this recipe), and with toothsome flaked coconut. The wild thing (to me, and yes, this is wild!) is that the recipe doesn’t stop with flaked coconut. It incorporates coconut extract, which brings the coconut flavour to the forefront of pretty much all of the other flavours. You poke the fresh, just-out-of-the-oven cakes (yes, I said cakes! This recipe yields two 9″ loaves!) with a fork and pour over them a glaze made with coconut extract. The glaze soaks into the cakes, making them even more moist than before and giving them a simply amazing texture.
If you are not pleased by coconut, then keep reading! I found that while the coconut flavour was nice, it was just a bit too strong for me. The coconut also seemed to underscore the cake’s sweetness, and I just felt this dessert could be better. I made it a second time, substituting vanilla extract for the coconut extract but leaving in the flaked coconut. (You could omit the flaked coconut, and even the nuts, if you wanted, and the cake would still rock out.) I reduced the amount of sugar in the cake by nearly 1/2 cup, and used vanilla extract in the glaze rather than coconut extract. Ta-da! We have a winner! 🙂
The vanilla version of this cake wasn’t cloyingly sweet (seriously, I’d advise reducing the amount of sugar in the cake batter no matter which extract you use), and its flavour was boldly vanilla-esque but also kind of buttery and with a hint of coconut from the flaked coconut. The glaze simply boosted the vanilla-butter profile, rather than making the vanilla too prominent at the cost of other flavours. The cake was still moist and the texture was, if anything, more delicate than the first time I made this cake. So reducing the sugar didn’t negatively affect the texture at all. Yay!
This cake is kind of a cross between coffee cake, banana bread, and pound cake. It’s not as dense as classic pound cake (sorry, Mom), yet it’s solid and thick. I would say the texture here is reminiscent of the banana bread I made last year, only much more moist. It’s frighteningly quick to make, and doesn’t even require a mixer. I used a whisk!
The walnuts (you may use pecans, if you prefer) and the buttery vanilla flavour are wonderful for fall. This is definitely a fall or winter kind of cake. And since it’s so quick to make, perhaps you could whip it up for a quick dessert or make it the night before a busy day, to serve as a quick, delicious breakfast. The protein in the walnuts makes up for all that sugar. 😉
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Coconut Walnut Vanilla Pound Cake
Yield: two 9″ loaves
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract OR coconut extract
2 cups sugar (I wound up preferring 1 1/2 cups sugar)
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts OR toasted pecans
1 cup flaked coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
For the glaze:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 TBS butter (either salted or unsalted)
4 TBS vanilla extract OR coconut extract
For the cakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9″ loaf pans, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine buttermilk and extract in a glass measuring cup. Set aside.
Whisk together sugar and oil. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in alternate increments, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Gently stir in nuts and coconut.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 40 minutes; check doneness. The cakes are done when a toothpick or fork inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The cakes may need up to 55 minutes in the oven to fully bake; keep checking them at five minute intervals.
Place cakes on cooling racks and immediately begin making the syrup (see below). As soon as the syrup is finished, poke holes all over each cake with a skewer or fork and pour syrup over each of the cakes, making sure to cover the surface of each cake entirely with syrup. Allow cakes to cool completely in their pans.
For the glaze:
Place all ingredients in medium, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan and turn heat to medium-high. Bring mixture to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally as needed. Do not stir with any implement or you’ll risk making the mixture grainy! Boil 5 – 7 minutes, or until the consistency of maple syrup. Do not let mixture caramelize.
Pour immediately over the still-warm, poked cakes, dividing the glaze evenly between each cake. The glaze will soak completely into each cake.
Sprinkle powdered sugar on top, if desired.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Source: My friend Gasoline’s Aunt Gail