Thursday, August 16, 2012

Say You're Sorry Sour Cream Cake

A barroom reenactment of the Mantis
beseeching the neighbors for midnight
cat retrieval assistance.
Remember that time when you accidentally opened that one window which has no screen, and your boyfriend's cat snuck out and ended 40 feet up the tree in the next door neighbor's back yard at 11:30 PM on a work night? No? Well, then, that must have been me.
Seriously. Forty feet up the neighbor's tree. As midnight approached. Nothing but a pair of iridescent demon eyes reflecting the flashlight. The neighbors were good sports, holding a second flashlight and even letting the Mantis use their ladder, but no. The cat was retrievable at about 20 feet, but there was no way to get to her when she scrambled up twice as high. So, after about 40 minutes or so of keeping the neighbors up way past their bedtimes, and wondering if a real fire department would really rescue a real cat from a real tree, we had no real options except to wait for daylight. We apologized repeatedly and profusely to the neighbors, then waited it out until the alarm went off at 5:30.

The cat, as though
outside never happened.
Anticlimactically, Chewy extracted herself from the tree and curled up in the garage to sleep until we let her back in the house. Then acted like nothing happened, and demanded her breakfast. Standard cat behavior. So, the cake? Well, I thought delivering a cake would be the least I could do to thank the neighbors for not calling the cops when a strange man with suspicious looking facial hair came banging on the door while a possibly insane woman waving a flashlight started singing the meow-meow song to soothe the invisible wookie in the sweetgum.
Everything you need to bake this cake is already in your pantry, and it mixes up in just a few minutes. You can bake it in a loaf pan, tube pan, or bundt pan. You can glaze it with something liquor-y, sprinkle it with confectioner's sugar, or just leave it plain. Top it with fruit. Cut it into cubes to make a trifle. Present it as an apology to your neighbors. You get the idea.
What You Need
Room temperature butter and eggs will
actually result in a better cake.
  • 190g (1½ cup) AP flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 113g (1 stick, ¼ lb) butter
  • 300g (1¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125g (½ cup) sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp vanilla-butternut flavoring
Butter makes better batter!
What You Do
  1. Grease and flour a loaf pan. I like a tea loaf pan, but a standard loaf pan works perfectly. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients: flour, soda, salt.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing and completely incorporating before adding the next one.
  5. Alternate adding the sour cream amd flour, mixing just long enough to blend.
  6. Add the extracts and mix just to combine.
  7. Turn batter into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour.
  8. If top browns too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.
  9. Check for done at 1 hour; it probably needs longer, but check.
  10. Standard loaf pan may take as long as 1h20m to bake cleanly. (My long and narrow tea loaf pan bakes through in about 50 minutes.)
  11. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning cake out of pan.
  12. Cool cake completely before slicing.
What You Eat
Cut the cake into fifteen slices. Why fifteen? Well, why not? Actually the reason is pretty simple: 200 calorie slices. After I enter the ingredients into the database, I can adjust the portion size to be anything from miserly to gluttonous, and see what the calorie counts are. A 200-calorie slice is enough to make you feel like you actually got dessert, without being so much that you have to feel guilty after eating it. Plus, if you add strawberries or a drizzle of chocolate, you won't break the calorie bank. Stop before you talk yourself into the ice cream and hot fudge, though. Unless you are also simultaneously talking yourself into an extra 3 miles on the trail or 30 minutes on the elliptical. Your call.
Calories 196 Protein 2.9g Vitamin B6 1.1%
Fat 8.8g Vitamin A 5.8% Folate 7.2%
Saturated Fat 5.1g Vitamin C 0% Vitamin B12 2.7%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3g Calcium 1.8% Pantothenic Acid 2.3%
Monounsaturated Fat 3.8g Iron 4.3% Phosphorus 0%
Cholesterol 62mg Vitamin D 4.6% Magnesium 1.2%
Sodium 122mg Vitamin E 1.7% Zinc 1.5%
Potassium 40mg Thiamin 7.2% Copper 1.5%
Carbohydrate 27g Riboflavin 7.5% Selenium 11%
Fiber 0.3g Niacin 3.8% Manganese 4.5%
Sugars 17g
Cats who jailbreak at midnight don't get dessert. Ever.
What You Learn
  • Don't open the window which has no screen. Not even a crack.
  • Everybody loves cake, especially when they did not expect it and did not have to bake it.
  • The vanilla-butternut flavoring gives the cake a little, oh, I don't ne sais quoi? Don't worry if you don't have it, just splash a bit more vanilla in.
  • This is the basic sour cream poundcake I have been baking since high school. It was the first cake I ever baked from scratch, and has never failed me. I have even made it with margarine, back in the olden days. If you must report me to the Culinary Arts Committee for Unacceptable Recipe Substitutions, please know that the statute of limitations on this particular infraction has long since expired. Pound cake requires butter. No substitutes.

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