Tag Archives: Van Halen pound cake

You Know It’s True: Every Pound Cake I Bake, I Bake It For You

11 Mar

Okay, I might be the only game in town that revisits the humble pound cake on a regular basis.  But, you’ll thank me.  Honest.  Soon, all of you I Don’t Bake people will be riffing on the basic pound cake and coming up with All Manner of Variations because I refuse to let the subject go.  You’re welcome.

So, here’s how this most recent pound cake came about.  You guys heard about my lovely Auntie Ev, right?  Well, she passed away last Thursday morning, and The Beloved and I went to Pinehurst to meet her son, clean up the house and deal with Funeral Arrangements and such.  Then, their son Ken came and stayed with us Saturday evening before driving back home to Virginia.

This posed a bit of a problem:  what to feed Cousin Ken.  We had some leftover baked rigatoni-type stuff I had made a couple of days before and also 2 bunches of lovely asparagus, so along with a loaf of Italian bread, that took care of dinner.  But I felt that we needed a dessert to round out the meal.  Plus, desserts are comforting when people are sad, and we were all a little sad.  Not so much for Auntie Ev who really wasn’t living any kind of life at the end, but for Uncle Ray who was left behind.  And for ourselves a bit because now everything has changed.  Anyway, I looked in the fridge and in the cabinets to make sure I had enough of the Right Ingredients to make a version of Van Halen Pound Cake.  And guess what?  I did.

Remember the base recipe:

  • 20 oz. sugar
  • 12 oz. butter
  • 5 large eggs
  • 13 oz. cake flour
  • 10 oz. dairy/liquid
  • leavening, salt, extracts, zests, etc of your choice

And this is how I changed it up.  I’ll tell you what I call it in just a minute.

  • 20 oz. sugar
  • 12 oz. butter
  • zest of two oranges
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons of Cointreau (just for fun)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 13 oz. cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (added to balance the acidic sour cream and OJ concentrate)
  • a little more than 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz. orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 4 oz. sour cream

I used The Creaming Method, as it is the Preferred Method for mixing pound cake.  I creamed together the butter, sugar, zest, extracts and Cointreau.

I added the eggs one at a time.

I whisked together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

I added them alternately with the OJ concentrate and then the sour cream.

Of course, there was plenty of Bowl Scraping as well.

Once all of your ingredients have been incorporated and the batter is thick and fluffy and smooth, scrape it into a sprayed and floured Bundt pan and bake at 325F until it’s done.  In my oven, it took an hour and ten minutes.

This cake is extremely moist and somewhat dense due to the extra sugar in the orange juice concentrate.  You could certainly cut back the granulated sugar to 17-18 ounces to keep things balanced.  The cake will rise a bit higher and have a more even crumb.  The Up Side of keeping the sugar at 20 oz. despite the OJ concentrate is that the cake is very moist and keeps well for at least a week.  That’s good news if you’re baking for only a couple of folks.  No one likes dry pound cake, and this is certainly not dry.

We loved it.  Ken loved it and took some home to his wife.  His wife Candace loved it, too.  I talked to her on the phone the other day, and she said that her usual prerequisites for Loving a Cake are that 1)it be chocolate and 2)it have frosting.  This cake was Unchocolate and Naked, and she still loved it.  High praise, indeed.

For those of you who have been following along with the Saga of the Van Halen Pound Cake, do you see how I changed things up?  And you can do the same thing.  Play with different seasonings, spices, herbs, fats, dairy, sugar, glazes, etc.  Just stick to the basic Recipe Scaffold (I just made that up), and you’ll always end up with an edible cake, even if you don’t Love It.  And how can that be wrong?

Besides, you will eventually come up with Your Perfect Pound Cake.  Make sure you write down the ingredients and amounts for all your attempts, and behold, you’re creating Original Recipes, and you’re not even Colonel Sanders!

Do try this particular cake toasted for breakfast.  After all, it contains eggs, orange juice and dairy.  Sounds like breakfast to me.

Oh, I call this guy the Anita Bryant Sunshine Pound Cake.  I don’t agree with her politics, but I will always associate her with orange juice.

Updates from the Front Lines

12 Oct

Friends, I have missed you.  Now, I’m back(ish), so I want to let everyone know what’s going on in the land of PMAT and PCO and Life in General.

1)If someone offers you free kittens, run away.  Quickly.  It’s a very good thing that we love them and don’t mind eating ramen noodles and sand.

2)I finished all my linking stuff.  Hooray!  I will now quietly accept all of your Congratulations………….Thanks.  My web guru is feverishly working to get Pastry Chef Online online in its New and Improved Form.  I’m pretty excited, and I hope everyone will like the new look.

3)I’m a co-author!  I contributed some material to my friend Drew’s new book, From Scratch, and he introduced me on his wonderful blog, How to Cook Like Your GrandmotherGo see!  When the book is Out, there’ll be a link over here if you’d like to pick up a copy.  I think you should, of course, and not just ’cause I wrote some of it.  It’s a comprehensive guide to the basics.  I think you’ll enjoy it.  Hats off to Drew for all his hard work in herding the Unruly Contributors and editing like a Champ.

4)I made another iteration of Van Halen Pound Cake a few days ago for Uncle Ray‘s 93rd birthday Celebration.  I call it “Cinnamon Cream Pound Cake.”  On account of it has about 3/4teaspoon of cinnamon and a cup of lightly whipped cream.  It was G.U.D. Good.  You should probably go ahead and make one now.  Use 3 sticks of butter and 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla plus the cinnamon and the cream–and if you have some, use some brown sugar along with the white for a total of 3 cups or 19 oz.  Everything else is the same.  I’m considering making it with the two-stage method at some point, although if it were any more tender than it already is, it might Kill Me with Deliciousness.

5)Since I last saw you all, my Best Friend Who I’ve Never Met, Linda, has turned into a friend In Real Life.  How cool is that when that happens?  Linda is a wonderful pastry chef who works at a keen country club in Lynchburg, VA.  She came down to stay with us a couple of weeks ago, and we had the Best Time Ever.  We laughed and talked and ate and drank Adult Beverages and had a fire in the fire pit and took a nap on Saturday afternoon.  Not together, but still.  I also gave her a Blogging Lesson, and I expect her to write Amazingly Informative Posts.  Here’s her blog (I don’t think there are any posts yet, though):  The Accidental Pastry Chef.  Do check back occasionally, because you won’t be disappointed.  She really knows here stuff and is one of the most creative and funny people I know.

And now, I’m off to talk to my web person so I can let everyone know What’s Happening with the Site.  Before I go, here are some videos for your Enjoyment.  You’re welcome.This one is for my mom–she adores Brian May.

Here’s one of Adam singing One Republic’s Come Home.  Lovely.

And here’s my boy singing Time for Miracles.  Yay!

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.

Miss Patsy’s “Van Halen” Pound Cake

2 Jan


Van Halen Pound Cake

Best. Pound-Cake. Ever.


I told you guys I would be reporting on the making/baking/de-panning/eating of Miss Patsy’s famous pound cake recipe, sent to me by friend and reader Cindy.  I have been sworn to secrecy about the exact recipe, so I can’t print that, but I can print my modifications.   And where does Van Halen come in?  I was invited to Mary Lou’s house for New Years Day.  She told me to bring something sweet.  I told her, via facebook, that I would bring this pound cake.  She posted, “Is that like Van Halen pound cake?”  I was confused, and I had to ask her what that meant.  She told me that Van Halen has a song called Pound Cake.  I don’t think it’s about a baked good, but that’s neither here nor there.  So, for my purposes, my few tweaks to Miss Patsy’s famous pound cake will be known from this point onward as Van Halen pound cake.

First, a bit about pound cake.  The original recipe is a perfect balance of structural elements and tenderizing elements.  1 pound each of flour and eggs for Team Structure balanced against 1 pound each of sugar and butter for Team Tender.  A perfectly balanced but fairly dense and fairly flavorless cake.  The recipe has been tweaked over the years and now usually includes extra sugar, some flavorings, a little extra liquid and some leavening.  Here’s the ingredient roll call for Van Halen Pound Cake:

  • 13 oz. cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (fine sea salt–it blends in much better than kosher salt)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 oz. butter flavored shortening
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • zest of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup half and half

First, you really need to use a stand mixer for this.  Generally, you need 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour (which I usually measure at 4-ish ounces), and I used just 1 teaspoon to leaven three cups of flour.  The baking powder will give off some carbon dioxide and keep the crumb from being really tight, but the main leavening comes from adequate creaming of the fat and sugar.  A stand mixer makes pretty short work of this.  I put this cake together using The Creaming Method.  You can read about it on this very blog.  This is exactly what I did:

  1. I measured all of my ingredients and let them sit until everything was no cooler than about 68 degrees, F.
  2. I whisked the flour and baking powder together really well.
  3. I creamed the butter and shortening together for about a minute.
  4. I added the flavorings and the salt and creamed for another minute.  (Fat carries flavor really well, so adding them at this point makes sense).
  5. In went the sugar, and I creamed everything on medium until the shortening was lighter in color and fluffy–about 3-4 more minutes.  Much bowl scraping occurred too, to ensure even creaming.
  6. In went 1 egg at a time.  I beat on medium for about 30 seconds with each addition, scraping the bowl every time.
  7. I dumped in about half the flour/baking powder and beat until combined.
  8. In went half the dairy.  I beat until just combined.
  9. Then, I put in 1/2 of the remaining flour/baking powder and mixed on low until combined.
  10. I drizzled in the last half of the milk, then added the rest of the flour and the zest.  (If you add the zest earlier, it will just get all snarled around your paddle attachment like seaweed around a boat motor, and none of it will end up in the cake).
  11. I turned the speed up for literally just 2-3 seconds to make sure everything was well combined.

How to prepare the pan:  I used a Bundt pan, and I knew that Cindy has had issues with the cake sticking.  I really like a Wilton product for this.  It’s their Cake Release.  It’s not the spray kind; it comes in a bottle with a flip-top lid, like the old Bactine bottles, if you remember.  I just squirted some in and then painted it all over the inside of the pan with a pastry brush.  I am truly convinced that the Cake Release is the Best Product Ever for making a cake come bounding out of a pan, and using a pastry brush really helps to get it in all the nooks and crannies in a Bundt pan.  If you don’t have any of this magical product, other options include pan sprays with oil and flour in them, fat and then flour or fat and then sugar.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, F, and baked the cake in the lower third of the oven for a total of about 1 hour and 10 minutes.  I knew he was done when he was just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and when I toothpick I stuck in the center came out clean.  I let him cool in the pan for about an hour, then I turned him out onto a rack to finish cooling.  Fortunately my Cake Release did me proud and the cake sprang forth from the pan like the Little Gingerbread Man from the oven.

I made a glaze for the little guy, too.  I used some powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, the wee-est splash of my brand new Sonoma Syrup Co Special Blend Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian Vanilla with Vanilla Bean Seeds (that’s what the label says.  I just call it vanilla) and a little half and half.  Then, once the cake was cool, drizzle, drizzle, drizzle.  In case you were wondering, it’s called “Crush” because it has crushed up vanilla beans in it so there are wee vanilla specks.  It is, hands down, the best vanilla I’ve ever had.

This is a great recipe, folks.  It’s buttery, and the mixture of the extracts lends a subtle and can’t-put-your-finger-on-it quality to the cake.  I heard a lot of, “What exactly am I tasting?”  The folks at the party loved it, and I give full credit to Miss Patsy for the original recipe and to Cindy for sharing it with me.  Thanks, Cindy!

Here are some extra Van Halen pound cake pictures for your enjoyment.



You can see a bit of the lemon zest.  The crumb is tight, but not too tight.

You can see a bit of the lemon zest. The crumb is tight, but not too tight.



I hope everyone had a great celebration last evening and are enjoying a relaxing day.  By the way, I’m a bit peevish with Rita for believing that Dexter could possibly be addicted to heroin, but that’s a whole other story.

***For an updated, fiddled-about-with version, check this out.

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