Top | Cakes and Muffins
Chocolate Bundt Pound Cake
(recipe, Caroline Cummins)
Pound cake often lives down to its name, turning out dry and leaden. But the recipe James Villas developed for Saveur magazine a couple of years ago is dense without being heavy, moist without being clumpy, and rich without feeling overly decadent.
This is his recipe, slightly tweaked for flavorings, and transformed into a luxurious chocolate cake. The trick of "blooming" the cocoa powder in hot milk comes from baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum.
- ½ to 1 Tbsp. butter, for greasing the pan
- ½ to 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting the pan
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp. instant espresso coffee powder
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (either natural or Dutched is fine)
- 3 tsp. vanilla extract
- 6 oz. (about 3 squares from a 9.7-ounce Scharffen Berger bar) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao)
- 12 oz. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
Ganache glaze (optional)
- 4 oz. (about 2 squares from a 9.7-ounce Scharffen Berger bar) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Generously grease a light-colored 10-inch tube or Bundt pan with the ½ to 1 Tbsp. butter. Add the ½ to 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder; turn the pan to coat it evenly with the cocoa, tap out any excess, and set it aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Repeat twice.
- Put the milk into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until just scalded. Turn off the heat and whisk in the espresso powder and the 1 cup cocoa powder. When cool, add the vanilla extract.
- Chop the 6 ounces of bar chocolate and place in the top of a double boiler. Melt, stirring frequently, over water simmering in the bottom of the double boiler. When the chocolate has melted, let it cool slightly, then add it to the scalded-milk mixture.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 3 sticks of butter on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, ¼ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat until satiny smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Add 1 egg at a time to the butter mixture, beating for 15 seconds before adding another, and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and firmly tap the pan on a counter to allow the batter to settle evenly. Bake until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out moist but clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.
- If you wish to glaze the cake, chop the chocolate for the glaze and put it in a small, heatproof bowl. Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring it just to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted evenly into the cream. Let cool slightly, to a glaze consistency (you want the glaze to drip slowly down the sides of the cake, instead of running quickly off onto the cake tray or serving platter), and then drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.
- Cut into slices to serve.
Variations: For a more traditional plain pound cake, leave out the melted chocolate and use 1 teaspoon each of rum, vanilla, and lemon extract; coat the pan with flour instead of cocoa powder.
Rose Levy Berenbaum's trademark cake is a lemon pound cake, but you can lemonize this one by using 3 tsp. lemon extract in place of the rum and vanilla and adding the grated and minced zest of 2 lemons. Use the juice of the lemons, cooked with about 1/3 cup sugar, to make a lemon syrup; poke the warm cake lightly all over with a skewer and pour the syrup over it.
For a boozy cake (and to extend the cake's shelf life), make a syrup of 2/3 to 3/4 cup rum, brandy, or other liquor heated gently with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water; poke holes halfway through the warm cake, about 1/2 inch apart, and pour the syrup over the cake. Cool for 30 minutes before unmolding.
Finally, Saveur also published a caramel version of Villas' original pound cake, featuring brown sugar.