It was a dark and stormy night. A dense blanket of clouds lined the sky, obscuring every star. The rain fell in thick sheets, punctuated by bright, blinding flashes of lightening and deafening claps of thunder. The weather outside was not fit for man or beast!
I sat at my computer, (probably not a smart thing to do during a thunderstorm), and commiserated with several of my Twitter friends who were experiencing the same conditions. The funny thing was that most of us were exercising our frustrations in the exact same way - by baking - and tweeting about it!
In the midst of all that tumultuousness, I wanted to bake something to brighten things up a bit, figuratively speaking, of course. I searched through my stash of saved recipes and came across one for a Cream Cheese Pound Cake that I had bookmarked a while back from Smitten Kitchen. Now, you're probably wondering how a dense, rich pound cake could possibly impact the weather. It can't. But, when you add lots of bright, sunny lemon flavor to it, you can almost forget how miserable it is outside!
This recipe deviates from traditional pound cake recipes in that it calls for a quarter pound of cream cheese to be added in place of the same amount of butter. I didn't notice any significant difference in the texture of the cake. It was still very dense, moist and rich. But, there was a gentle tang to it that married really beautifully with the lemon. And, the top of the cake developed a wonderful crunchy, crackly crust. I don't know if the cream cheese had anything to do with this, but it was lovely.
This has become my hands down favorite pound cake, no matter what the weather! It is absolutely scrumptious! I certainly hope that you'll give it a try. If you don't, you'll be missing out on something very special.
Makes two 5 x 9 loaf cakes or one 12-cup bundt cake
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour two 5 x 9 loaf pans. Alternately, you can use a 12-cup bundt pan.
Mix the sugar and the lemon zest in a small bowl and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. The warmth from your fingers will release the oils from the zest and flavor the sugar. Set aside.
Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, about five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla and lemon extracts. Then, add the flour and salt all at once. Mix just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours.
Cool the cake(s) on a rack for 20 minutes. Remove the cake(s) from the pan(s) and let cool completely.
Serve at room temperature.