A couple of weekends ago, our neighbor had his 10th annual (and last) Crawfish Fest in his back yard. He has done this every year (obviously, since it's annual) to raise money for different charities. He generally raises about $2000 for his chosen charity, which ain't bad At All for a back yard party!
As you can see, the party has gotten Very Big. So big, that next year, the local Knights of Columbus will be taking over hosting duties, and it will be at a public venue rather than in a yard. Very cool stuff. This year, the monies raised went to the Fallen Firefighters and also the Firefighter Explorers, and I believe the total haul was about $2200.
Two years ago, the 8th annual fest happened the weekend after we moved into The Beautiful House, and it was a great way to meet our new neighbors. So, we go to hang out with friends, to help raise some money for a good cause, and to eat some pretty serious food. And, of course, The Beloved shows up to Pinch Tails and Suck Heads. Because that's what eatin' crawfish is all about!
I made what I think might be one of the best iterations ever of the Van Halen Pound Cake. I'm serious, y'all. It was Good. Plus, I got to use beautiful eggs from our girls! Thanks, girls.
Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Pound Cake
I have always thought that brown sugar-cinnamon PopTarts sound like a Good Idea. In theory. But then, I'd bite into one and the filling was so dry and Weird. (This was years and years before I realized that PopTarts aren't really food at all, but that's another post). So, when I was thinking of ways to change up the VHPC, brown sugar and cinnamon seemed to be a way for that flavor combination to shine, no preservatives required.
- 9 oz dark brown sugar
- 10 oz sugar
- 12 oz unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- 1 barely rounded teaspoon of fine sea salt (maybe 1 1/8 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 5 large eggs, cracked into a bowl and beaten
- 13 oz cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup sour cream (I know--it's by volume, but it'll be fine, just squoosh it into a 3/4 cup measure)
- 4 oz whipping cream, whipped until thickened and whisk leaves track marks in the cream
This is put together using The Creaming Method. If you've been with me, or baking, for awhile, you already know this one. But I have refined my technique a bit, so I thought I'd go over exactly What I Did for your edification and enjoyment.
Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare your Bundt-type pan with pan spray and flour.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.
Cream butter until smooth. Add salt and vanilla. Since fat carries flavor, this seems like an excellent time to add the flavoring agents. You can add the cinnamon now, too, if you want.
Add sugars, making sure that your dark brown sugar is lump-less. And yes, you can use light brown sugar, but it won't be quite as Delicious.
Cream on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, making sure to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary.
Drizzle the eggs in a bit at a time, beating on medium speed. The reason I cracked all the eggs and beat them together was because sometimes adding even just one whole egg is a bit much for a relatively fragile emulsion to take. So, by whisking the eggs up, I have way more control over how much egg I introduce at a time. As far as I'm concerned, it makes for a more stable batter. I just had this epiphany a few weeks ago. Try it for yourself and see what you think.
These next additions all get mixed in on low speed for 20 seconds:
- half the dry ingredients
- half the sour cream
- half the remaining dry ingredients
- the rest of the sour cream
- the rest of the dry ingredients
The batter will probably still have swirls of flour and sour cream showing. That's okay. Because look what comes next:
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and then mix on high speed for about 3 seconds. Seriously--no more than that.
Pour in your very softly whipped cream and fold it in by hand.
Pour into your prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for an hour. Test for doneness and bake another five-ten minutes if necessary.
Let cool on a rack in the pan for twenty minutes. Turn the cake out on a rack (just to make sure you can) and let it cool for another twenty minutes or so.
Put the cake back in the pan, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it cool completely. This weird step will help keep your cake Ever So Moist, because instead of all that moisture escaping as steam and vapor and What Not while your cake cools, it'll get stuck in the cake. No, your cake won't be soggy. I promise.
Once the cake is cool, you can glaze it or not. Here's what I did:
- powdered sugar (about 2 cups or so)
- pinch of salt
- splash of vanilla
- enough milk to get the consistency you like
- cinnamon, to taste and also for dusting
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Err on the side of less milk to begin with. I like my glaze to be thick and opaque, so my preferred way of doing it is to make a very thick glaze and then pour it onto a very slightly warm cake. The cake will warm the glaze enough to help it run down the sides of the cake in an Attractive Manner.
You can also make this glaze by heating all the ingredients up on the stove. I like this method because it does cook out a bit of the raw corn starch taste from the powdered sugar, but be forewarned that it sets up Very, Very quickly one you take it off the heat.
Once the glaze is Applied, I dusted just a bit of powdered cinnamon over the top of the whole shebang.
How good is it? Well, I ate two pieces, and neighbor Chuck, who threw all of his Weight Watchers' Points for the next several days out the window, had Four! And he said it was worth it. And he lost weight anyway. So there!
Anyway, that does it for now. Have a lovely day, all!