Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Classic but not Boring

My first taste of cake as a young child (maybe even as a babe in arms) had to be a buttery pound cake that was my mum's forte. Remembering a dense cake, fragrant with vanilla, orange or cocoa flavors, it was a real treat whenever my brother and I came home from school in the afternoon to find the kitchen filled with baking smells and the promise of a slice (or more) thus spurring us to finish our homework double-quick. Happy indeed were those young days spent at the dining table in mum's kitchen reading, writing and 'maths'ercising (no need to check the dictionary, there's no such word - I just made it up) while inhaling that distinctive buttery aroma escaping from the oven.

With such deliciously etched memories, it is no wonder that whenever I have a 'nostalgic' sugar-craving (as opposed to an 'adventurous' or a 'to-die-for' type of sugar-craving) and an hour or two to spare in the afternoon, it is the classic pound cake that I turn to for gratification.
Little Bursts of Sweetness
When we call something a 'classic', we are basically saying that it's been around for a long long long time, so long that practically everyone is familiar with it, and in some instances, it may even equate 'boring'. So much so that I can hardly ever find good pound cakes for sale in bakeries and patisseries which are however chockful with complicated cheesecakes, moussecakes, soft sponge and cream confections, tiramisus, and what-nots.

Made a classic vanilla pound cake the previous weekend, to serve after dinner for the family. I won't be putting up the recipe in this post as pound cake recipes are a dime a dozen (being the basic recipe found in any respectable baking cookbook - and if you don't have a cookbook, just troll the internet!).
A bit of history: The pound cake derived its name from having equal amounts of flour, sugar, butter and eggs (a pound of each to be exact) as its ingredients.

With just a tad of extra effort, these slices of pound cake when served with champagne grapes and lavender syrup transcended 'boring' to become 'special'.
  • These champagne grapes are sold in Cold Storage supermarket for about $5 (or less) a punnet and are just like tiny little bubbles of sweetness that pop in your mouth - absolutely irresistible, and I think they're great for incorporating in all kinds of desserts, maybe even as a topping for a cream layered cake.
  • The lavender syrup is very easy to make: boil half a cup of sugar with about a three-quarter cup of water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add 2 teabags (or approximately 2 heaped tablespoons) of dried edible lavender (you can easily get this in herbal tea shops). Let steep for half an hour or more and you will achieve this sweet lavender-scented syrup. Remove teabags (or sieve the syrup if you are using loose lavender) and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the champagne grapes to the syrup. Stir and serve by spooning the grapes and syrup over the slices of pound cake.
If you like the smell of lavender, you will love the interplay of the syrup's fragrance against the buttery flavors of the cake and the sweet grapes. And don't throw away any extra unused syrup, just add some hot water to two teaspoons of the syrup in a cup and you'll have lavender tea to sip and enjoy.


Anonymous slurp! said...

yes, those buttery aroma, certainly evokes memory of my mum's very first encounter with her baking, butter cake. is this similiar to pound cake? she doesn't bakes now, which is a fortunately a good thing, in view of her health.

4/26/2006 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

butter cake = pound cake = madeira cake, one and all the same, simple and requires no special reason whatsoever to bake one anytime!

4/27/2006 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

hmm....u made me thought of my mum's chiffon cake....

4/28/2006 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger shaz said...

those grapes looks fantastic!

4/28/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

foodcrazee - have u ever tried to replicate your mum's chiffon cake? Would love to see the result :)

shaz - thanks, do take a trip down to the supermarket and bring some home to try!

5/01/2006 08:40:00 AM  

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