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The brightest eyes, the biggest heart, the best laugh, the widest smile. This is Nancie McDermott.1
Traveler, writer, baker, cook. Student, teacher, maker, friend.
We gathered last Sunday in a field at dusk (for real!) to celebrate the force named Nancie. Black, white, Asian, young and old, tall and short, male and female, cooks and eaters. All are welcome in Nancie’s tribe.
We celebrated, and laughed, and talked, and connected. We broke bread together. Old connections strengthened, new connections made, lives intersecting, drawn together in a sparkling web of love and laughter and food and celebration.
Born in the south and drawn to Thailand, Nancie embraces both cultures, both cuisines. She is Shrimp and Grits as much as she is Tom Yum Goong. She is Tom Kha Kai as much as she is Chicken and Dumplings. She is sticky rice and rice pudding.
This cake, made to celebrate Nancie and four fabulous years of CHOP-NC, of course celebrates both the South and Thailand. I hope you enjoy it.
For the Cake
- 1 13.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
- 4-5 fresh lemongrass leaves, , about 2-2/12 feet long(See Note below)
- 13 oz cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 19 oz granulated sugar
- 12 oz excellent quality unsalted butter at cool room temperature, (I used Stirling Churn 84--See Note below)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 full teaspoon of freshly minced ginger, (use a microplane for extra-juicy, finely grated ginger)
- 5 large eggs, , beaten and at cool room temperature.
- 2/3 cup fresh or frozen, (do not thaw) blueberries
For the Glaze (optional but lovely)
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, , sifted
- pinch of salt
- Enough coconut milk to yield a nice drizzling consistency, , about 2-3 Tablespoons or so
To Prepare the Lemongrass/Coconut Milk Mixture
- Wash the lemongrass leaves and cut into about 1" lengths. Put them in a container with a tight-fitting lid and pour in the can of coconut milk.
- Shake the container well and leave in the fridge for about 5-6 hours, shaking well when you think about it.
To Make the Cake
- Spray and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan. Set aside.
- Set an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 325F.
- Put the coconut milk and lemongrass leaves into your blender and blend on high speed for about 20-30 seconds, until the milk is a pale green and the leaves are very finely shredded.
- Strain the mixture, pressing down on the solids, and weigh out 11 oz**(See the Butter note below). Set aside.
- Whisk the flour and baking powder together really well. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until it is smooth.
- Add the sugar, salt and lemon zest and cream well until light and fluffy (about 10 minutes). Scrape bowl as necessary.
- Add the ginger and blend until evenly combined.
- With the mixer on medium-low speed, drizzle in the egg a bit at a time, allowing one addition to mix in completely before adding more. This will take about 5-7 minutes. Scrape bowl as necessary.
- Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the bowl. Mix on low speed for about 5 seconds. Flour will not be completely incorporated.
- With the mixer still running on low, pour in half the coconut milk and mix for a few seconds. Milk may not be completely incorporated. Scrape the bowl.
- Repeat with the remaining half of the flour, the rest of the coconut milk and finish with the last of the flour.
- Scrape the bowl and then fold the batter to make sure the flour and coconut milk are completely incorporated.
- Spread 2/3 of the batter evenly into the pan and top with half the blueberries. You can toss them with a bit of flour first. This might prevent them from sinking. Or not. Either way, it's okay.
- Spread in the remaining batter and top with the rest of the blueberries (they will sink in. If you're lucky, they won't make it all the way to the bottom. Don't be sad if they do, though).
- Bake for about an hour, or until a tester comes out clean, the top is a deep golden brown and the cake is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. The internal temperature of the cake should be right around 200F.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack. For super moist cake, you can wrap it immediately in plastic wrap and let it cool that way. For regular moist cake, just leave it alone and let it cool.
- If using the glaze, drizzle it on at least an hour before slicing and serving so it will have time to set up.
For the Optional Glaze
- Whisk the sugar, salt and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of coconut milk together. Add more coconut milk, just a bit at a time, until you like the consistency. For my glazes, I like them to be a bit thicker than honey and run very slowly off the whisk. Make yours whatever consistency you prefer.
If you don't have or can't find fresh lemongrass, use a 4" piece of lemongrass stalk from the store. They're really hard and fibrous, so bruise it up really well with a mallet. Unless you have a Super Blender (like Blendtec or Vitamix) I would skip the blending and just let the mixture steep until you have a deep, lemongrassy flavor.
Churn 84 is a high butterfat butter. You can also substitute regular unsalted butter. Reduce the liquid in the recipe from 11 oz to 10 oz.
This blueberry lemongrass pound cake is moist and delicious. The coconut flavor, delicate. The herbal notes, bright. The ginger sparkles at the back of the palate. Mellow sweet blueberries and the velvety texture of pound cake. It just works.
If you’ve not met Nancie, get to know her. You’ll see.
And please make this cake to celebrate someone you love.
Thank you for spending some time with me today.
Have a lovely day.
1Please click that link. Here it is again, just in case. This article paints a perfect picture of Nancie and also explains a lot about why I think she is the best.