Sunday, May 13, 2007

Not Your Ordinary Pound Cake

I’m a girl of simple tastes. It doesn’t always have to take pan fried foie gras or melt-in-your-mouth millefeuille to wow me, although I have nothing against the finer things in life either. The point is, I’ve always been a fan of pound cakes. I know, I know, they’re loaded with sugar and butter and cholesterol from all those eggs, but what can I say? At three o’clock in the afternoon a slice of pound cake with a cup of good tea hits the spot for me every time.

I have some favorites, such as the incredibly moist and eye-pleasing pineapple-coconut cake that I make on a regular basis, the traditional pain d’epices, the citron cake, and any cake with figs in it (see above). I’m also always on the lookout for new recipes to add to the repertoire to keep Jason the self-pronounced pound-cake-hater on his toes.

I finally got around to trying out a pound cake recipe in a Le Cordon Bleu book that I’ve wanted to make for the longest time. It’s a ginger cake with mango, apricot, gingko, walnut, ginger compote and ginger confit in it. I am a great fan of ginger so the minute I saw this recipe I knew it was going to be the ultimate pound cake for me. I didn’t make it until now because of the amount of work involved was rather daunting.

To prepare the ingredients that go into the cake, you first need to poach the ginger roots in a spicy syrup and let it sit for one day. You then use the ginger poaching syrup to poach the mango, apricot and gingko nuts. While they are poaching, you make the ginger confit. Only when everything is properly prepared can you start making the cake, so that’s three days’ work by my calculation. With all the moving pains accompanied by the myriad of things that one needs to take care when moving to a new country, I simply didn’t have that kind of time to invest in a pound cake. But the lure of the ginger was just too strong that I finally penned it into my diary and forced myself to make time for it.

The aroma while the cake was in the oven was incredible, but when I bit into the cake it was rather disappointing. Maybe the deliciousness was jut not proportional to the amount of work that went into it, or maybe my expectations were too high, but it was just so-so. I was so discouraged that I shoved the cake into the back of the fridge and didn’t eat another slice for two days. When I did give it a second chance I was able to make a more objective assessment. The overall flavor was quite pleasant, but the ginger flavor was not as pronounced as I would’ve liked it to be. I think the one major thing that was wrong with this cake was the gingko nut. It should’ve never been in the cake in the first place. The texture of the nut remained firm and the flavor bland despite the poaching so that when you bit into one it created an anomaly. I didn’t know whether to chew it or to spit it out. In the end, Libby got most of the gingko nuts so she’s going to be one smart dog, or at least not go senile.

Without further delay, here’s the recipe. I’ve left the gingko nuts in place but decide for yourself if you want to include it. I’ll probably leave it out the next time, or boil the heck out of it first to ensure it’s soft before poaching it.

For two 8x18x6cm cake pans:

Ginger Compote:
150g fresh peeled ginger
1L water
400g granule sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
5-6 peppercorn, cracked
150g granule sugar

Ginger flavored mango:
1 mango, cut into pieces
syrup from ginger compote

Ginger flavored apricot:
50g dried apricot
syrup from ginger compote

Ginger flavored gingko nuts:
80g gingko nuts
syrup from ginger compote

Ginger Confit:
50g freshly grated ginger
40g granule sugar
15g glucose

100g ginger compote
100g ginger flavored mango
100g ginger flavored apricot
80g ginger flavored gingko nuts
100g walnut, chopped
210g unsalted butter, let soften at room temperature
170g granule sugar
180g eggs
50g ginger confit
180g light flour
5g baking powder

Ginger Compote:
1. Boil water and sugar to make syrup
2. Place everything except 150g sugar into a large heavy-duty zip-loc bag, push out the air and seal
3. Bake at 80C oven for 40 minutes
4. Open bag and take out ginger. Place 600ml syrup into a saucepan with 150g sugar, cook for 30min without boiling. Remove from heat and add ginger, let stand for at least a day.
5. Save remaining syrup

Ginger flavored mango, apricot and gingko nuts:
1. Place mango, apricot and gingko nuts into separate Ziploc bags.
2. Add syrup from making ginger compote to bags until completely covering fruits
3. Push out air and seal bags
4. Heat in 80C oven for 40 minutes

Ginger confit:
1. Place grated ginger, sugar and glucose in saucepan and bring to a boil
2. Simmer while stirring with a wooden spoon constantly until most of the water is evaporated

1. Prepare pound cake pans by brushing with butter and coating with flour
2. Sift together flour and baking powder
3. Cut ginger, mango and apricot to 1cm cubes
4. Mix some honey into walnut until coated
5. Whisk softened butter until color lightens
6. Add granule sugar and egg alternately to butter while whisking
7. Whisk in ginger confit gently
8. Add all the sifted flour and baking powder, whisk in without introducing air
9. Fold in ginger compote, apricot, mango, walnut and gingko nuts
10. Pour into cake pans and bake at 160C for 40 minutes


Anita said...

That is no ordinary pound cake! You decorate it so perfectly, it's lovely!

Kate said...

it is indeed very decacent . great flavours...definately not a ordinary pound cake !

weili said...

U're on a roll indeed!

Haven t quite got time to do any dessert making, definitely nothing complex.. sigh

too busy working for the dough....
not to mention my mixer died from doing tart doughs.. ha!

Lynn said...

Anita and Kate, thank you! the fig one was pretty yummy =o)

weili, oh no! but pound cakes don't require mixers ;o)