Last Saturday served as a perfect example of why I dread the coming winter. It was a frigid day filled with misty rain and capped by a gloomy, gray sky. The slick streets were inundated with horrible Charlotte traffic. Depressed by the lack of sunlight for taking photos, I was nevertheless trekking to the store and to my parents' house to gather materials for a cake. If you'd caught a glimpse of me, you might've mistaken me for a little black raincloud; in fact, all I needed was to take Winnie's cue and strap a balloon around myself for the illusion to be complete. I scowled about the drivers who neglected to use their turn signals, griped to myself about the parking situation at the store, stepped in a billion ice-cold puddles, and bought a plate for my cake only to find it was "not for food use." Humpf harrumpf humpflumpf! Finally, I grumpily turned into my parents' neighborhood to borrow a tube pan from my mom.
When I finally arrived at my parents' house, I was thrilled to see the warm, orange glow of the kitchen cut through the side windows into the gray morning light. Finally, some relief and refuge from the weather and from my mood. Indeed, I walked in the door and what should greet me but the smell of freshly made pumpkin pancakes oozing with butter, syrup, sugar-free caramel sauce, and whipped cream. And don't forget the sizzle of turkey sausages on the side! My mom was standing there channeling June Cleaver (who am I kidding? June has nothing on her) flipping delicious Low-Carb Pumpkin Pancakes while my dad read the paper and anticipated his plateful. Shame on me for wallowing in my mood! My faithful God had arranged such a sweet homecoming for me despite my scowl.
Flipping some delicious Low-Carb Pumpkin Pancakes. If you look closely, you can see my mom's Mii Cupcakes in the background!
Low-Carb Pumpkin Pancakes served with butter, syrup, sugar-free caramel, and sugar-free whipped cream. Side of turkey sausage.
Dad enjoying his breakfast.
Food plays such a prominent role in my family, and certain dishes in my mind are associated with comforting or joyful memories. The smorgasbord of silly appetizers at our New Year's Eve game night, the cinnamon rolls and egg casserole on Christmas morning, Dad's amazing pork butt and slaw, the chicken and dumplings we always clamored for, monkey bread! Milk toast! Sausages, peppers and onions! I could go on and on. It's no wonder that walking into a comforting kitchen filled with delicious scents and a welcoming plate of breakfast truly felt like coming home -- not just coming to borrow a tube pan. My spirits were lifted, and as I drove home, I was prepared for a day of baking another lovely family memory: the richest, most dense and moist pound cake you've ever tasted. It's iced with a simple caramel frosting and served alongside some Southern fried apples.
The best pound cake ever in the history of the universe, hands down. I'm not even worried about overselling it.
Let me see if I can explain how amazing this cake is. The cream cheese imparts a richness to the already buttery batter, and results in a very dense, smooth cake. Cutting into the cake is like slicing into butter, and it's lovely served slightly chilled. My usual complaint with pound cakes is that they're dry even with a glaze, but this one stays perfectly moist throughout its entire baking time. The frosting has a sultry caramel flavor without the fuss of normal caramel making, and is the perfect complement to the buttery cake. As for the apples, those were my addition! What with the nice fall days we've been having (well, except for the miserable weather from last week), warm Southern spiced apples sounded like a delicious accompaniment to a cool cake. And maybe there was a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream in there somewhere too!
This is absolutely one of those must-bake recipes. One bite and you'll be daydreaming all day about slicing yourself off another piece! And what a lovely dessert to share with family. I drove back to my parents' house on Sunday to drop some off for them, and my dad sent me an email from work the next day saying he was enjoying a slice. I hope once you taste your first forkful, this cake will become part of your family's own food memories.
Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Easy Caramel Frosting
Recipe By: Southern Living
Cream Cheese Pound Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Caramel Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
Make the pound cake: beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed of an electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat only until yellow disappears. Stir in vanilla.
Combine flour and salt and add to creamed mixture beating on low speed of electric mixture just until blended after each addition. Pour into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Fill a 2-cup ovenproof measuring cup with water and place in oven with cake (keeps it moist!). Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean (check in several areas of the cake to be sure it's completely done). Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from pan (invert onto a plate and then invert onto another so that it's upright) and let cool completely. When cool, spread caramel frosting over the sides.
Make the caramel frosting: melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add brown sugar; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves (do not boil). Remove from heat.
Stir in whipping cream. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat at high speed of an electric mixture until spreading consistency (do not overbeat, or your frosting will develop a play-doughy, "crunchy" consistency. It'll still taste good, but won't look very nice or be easy to spread). Spread immediately on top and sides of cake.
Care for some Southern Fried Apples with your cake?
Southern Fried Apples
Recipe by: Diana Rattray (slightly adapted and halved)
Yields: about 4 cups of fried apples
4 medium Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, chopped
1/8 cup butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg (about half of 1/8 teaspoon)
Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sauté 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are tender.
Julie's Note: I made double this and had way too many apples. Three or four tender spiced apple slices are perfect to accompany a single slice of cake, so you don't need many. You can keep these refrigerated in an airtight container and just warm them up in the microwave before serving with cold cake (and ice cream or whipped cream, if desired). Finally, plenty of websites told me not to bother peeling my apples, so I didn't, but I wished I had. Even though the peel got tender, it was still a different texture than the apple flesh and wasn't "a-peel-ing." Ha ha!