How to Improve Van Halen Pound Cake: Use Even More Fat Than Before

1 Sep

Please don’t hold me responsible for the lyrics.  Thank you.

Guys, you remember good old Van Halen pound cake, right?  My friend Cindy got the original recipe from Miss Patsy, the switchboard operator at our college (yes, we had a switchboard.  That is how Old I Am).  Miss Patsy made Cindy swear not to Reveal the Secret recipe to anyone.  Ever.  But Cindy revealed it to me, because I glamored her.  No wait, that’s True Blood.  She revealed it to me because she is a Nice Person.  ‘Cept for I had to promise that I would not Reveal the Secret, either.  So, what did I do?  I tweaked it a bit and Revealed that.  And Miss Patsy’s pound cake turned into Van Halen Pound Cake, courtesy of my friend Mary Lou.

Sunday, we had Mary Lou and the rest of the gang over for dinner.  Naturally, Van Halen pound cake was to be for dessert.  The first time I made it, someone said Van Halen pound cake is the Best Effing Pound Cake They’ve Ever Eaten.  I’d have to agree, until now.  Never one to leave Well Enough alone, I was thinking of ways to tweak Van Halen again, and I remembered that Shirley Corriher told me in Bakewise that I really should use some softly whipped cream in my pound cake to make it Achingly Tender and Moistly Meltingly Decadent.  Who am I to say no to that, right?  So, I purchased heavy cream on Saturday.  When I got ready to Bake, I was assembling all my ingredients and realized that the cupboard was suffering from a dearth of white sugar.  Great, says I.  And then, in a twinkling, I recovered.  I decided to use all the white sugar and then use light brown sugar to make up the difference.  So, then, my brain went, “I’m not feeling lemon zest and lemon flavoring with the molasses note from the brown sugar.”  Right then–away went the lemon zest and lemon extract, to be replaced with all vanilla extract.  Y’all know I’ve been using that Sonoma Syrups Vanilla Bean Crush vanilla extract, right?  Well, that stuff rocks.  You can get it at King Arthur, if you want some.

I experienced a Moment of Indecision when it came to using the cream.  I wondered if I shouldn’t just use straight cream for part of the liquid and only whip some of it.  Or maybe I should just use a mixture of half and half and whipped cream.  But in the end, I decided to throw Caution to the wind and whip the Whole Lot.  By hand.  You can, too.  You don’t need peaks–you just want to whip it enough so that it gets thick enough for the whisk to leave tracks.

I also changed up the mixing method just a bit–it’s still basically the creaming method, but go ahead and read through these steps.  I was Very Pleased with the results.

Here it is:
Van Halen Pound Cake, Iteration The Second (Mary Lou said to call it Van Haggar Pound Cake, but that would imply that VH w/Haggar was better than VH w/Roth.  I do not subscribe to this belief, even though it’s obviously Sammy singing up there.  My head hurts).

  • 13 oz. cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 oz. sugar
  • 8 oz. soft brown sugar–no lumps, please
  • 8 oz. cool butter
  • 4 oz. butter flavored shortening (or just go ahead and use 12 oz. butter.  I use the shortening to keep it from being so dry when I refrigerate it)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream, very softly whipped

Whisk together the flour and baking powder.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter and shortening along with the salt until smooth.  Add the sugars and cream on medium until light and fluffy.  Scrape bowl often.  Add the extracts and cream until all is well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping between additions and beating until completely incorporated.

At this point, I would normally add the dry and wet ingredients alternately:  dry-wet-dry-wet-dry.  I didn’t want to deflate the whipped cream, though, so I slowly mixed in all the dry in two additions, scraping the bowl and folding a few times just to make sure all the dry was moistened.  I felt comfortable adding this amount of dry ingredients without additional liquid because there were already 5 whole eggs beaten in, and I knew there would be enough liquid to keep the batter from turning into dough.

Whisk cold cream until the whisk leaves tracks and the cream begins to thicken.

Mix in on low, folding with a spatula a couple of times to make sure that it all gets incorporated.

Put in a well-greased and floured Bundt pan or tube pan and bake at 350F until deeply golden brown on top and firm to the touch.  This took about an hour in my oven, although I started Checking at about 45 minutes.  I also ended up putting a piece of foil over the cake for the last 15 minutes so it wouldn’t get too dark.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 20 minutes or so.  Make sure the sides are loosened, and then Turn Out onto a rack to cool completely.

Glaze.  Put in face.

Van Halen Glaze

  • 10x powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • heavy cream and half and half
  • a few drops of vanilla

No measurements here.  I just dumped some 10x into a bowl and drizzled in enough cream (and then half and half when I started feeling too guilty) to get a good thick drizzling consistency.  Then, I whisked in a bit of salt and some vanilla.  The end.

No, I don’t have a picture of the New and Improved Van Halen Pound Cake.  I’m sorry, but the camera was up 16 stairs and I Just. Couldn’t. Make it.  At any rate, I waited to taste it along with the rest of the gang.  The crumb is tight and velvety.  It smells like butter and vanilla.  It slices extremely well.  It starts out firm in the mouth and literally just melts when you start to chew.  Bliss.  Pure bliss.

Make some.  Make some now.  Just do it.

14 Responses to “How to Improve Van Halen Pound Cake: Use Even More Fat Than Before”

  1. croquecamille September 1, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    You use cream in your glaze?!? Now who’s evil? 😉

  2. Daily Spud September 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    I will add cream to my cakes. I will, I tell you. It has to be done!

  3. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen September 2, 2009 at 8:10 pm #

    Pound cake is one of my very favorite desserts! This one sounds really good! I love all the vanilla flavors as vanilla and I are BFF! LOL!

  4. gastroanthropologist September 3, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    Love the story of how the recipe was gotten… and your tweaked version sounds amazing. nothing better than a really good pound cake.

  5. Sam September 3, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    I’ve never made a pound cake before but I’m really tempted to try this recipe, it sounds simply fantastic!

  6. hkmouse September 17, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    I’m convinced, and I don’t usually care for pound cake.

  7. mee :P September 27, 2009 at 2:21 am #

    heeey!! I have just letf a commentary on your Van Halen Poundcake article of January XD but….I dont know if you recieved it :/….anyway! XD hahahaa wooah I cant believe you put the Van Halen video!! 😀 its the coolest!! 😀 haha you know, they say a woman its like a Poundcake^^ and its cute 😀 haha….well..keep cooking Van Halen Pouncakes!!! 😀 haha I hope you liked the song 😀 😀 ok bye XD


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