Friday, January 13, 2012

Dad's Birthday - Mocha Pound Cake

I'm so excited!  We have a stand mixer!  WE HAVE A STAND MIXER!!!!!  

It's so pretty... and shiny....

And it even morphs into a hand mixer!  We actually have possessed one before, although it did not morph.  Around the time my best friend's family got one, we bought a delightful KitchenAid ($200! 0_o) and I loved it from the second it hit the counter.  Sadly, my doting mother decided that it was too expensive and took up too much valuable kitchen counter space, and it was returned, paying no heed to my wails and tantrums and rending of garments.  She did acquiesce to a purchase of a handheld mixer, which I promptly loved to death over the course of the next 4 or 5 years, until this buttercream frosting.  I didn't say it then, but I suspect that the mixer was simply old, and the stress of changing speed so much finally caused it to crack.  Of course, Murphy's Law stated that my mixer would have to go kaput when mixing speed was crucial to the success of the recipe, when I was making it for someone else, when I was in a rush.  Let that be a lesson to all.  What lesson?  Not rushing, I guess...   

In any case.  The mixer arrived on the day between my mum's birthday and my dad's birthday, just one day late for the castella cake that I whisked by hand for an hour and half (!), but perfectly in time for my dad's desired cake.  It was actually the castella cake that my mum loved and finally agreed to buy a new mixer, but that post may be a while in coming yet.  It's a work in progress: delicious, but not yet perfect.  The next cake I make will be the fifth.  Luckily, with a mixer, the whisking time should be cut to 15 minutes.  I love having a working mixer!

For the new mixer's maiden cake, I borrowed a recipe from 17 and Baking, who got it from a friend, who got it from The New York Times.  I love it when recipes pass through many hands, don't you?  The batter is lovely and has that creamy, buttery quality, but I would expect nothing less.  Even though I reduced the sugar, I'm surprised at how well this cake turned out.  A perfect balance of coffee aroma and mild coffee flavor, smoothed by the butter and sugar.  I frosted and served it 2 days after it was baked, and the crumb was delightfully soft and comforting, dense in the way a pound cake is supposed to be.  Moderately chocolaty, just sweet enough, and lightly flavored with a little more coffee, the whipped cream frosting complemented it quite well, if I may say so myself.  The only change I would make is to make the effort to serve the cake on a flat plate.  Most of the plates in our house aren't quite flat, and I ended up with too much cream between the layers of cake.

The filling somewhat squished out when eaten, but no matter, still delicious.

Coffee Pound Cake adapted from 17 and Baking
Makes 1 8" round cake, about 2½" tall

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated instant vanilla coffee (substitute plain if needed, see next line)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (2 teaspoons if you only have plain instant coffee)
½ cup half and half
2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional, to sour the half and half for buttermilk)
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 stand or electric mixer, or wooden spoon, rubber spatula and large bowl
1 medium bowl (for flour mixture)
1 balloon whisk (for flour mixture)
1 rubber spatula
¼ teaspoon measure
1 teaspoon measure
1 tablespoon measure
¼ cup dry measure
1 cup dry measure
2-cup liquid measure
1 8" round cake pan (I used a springform, with parchment on the bottom)
Butter and flour for the pan


1. In the 2-cup liquid measure, mix the half and half with the coffee and stir to dissolve.  Once it is dissolved, add the lemon juice if desired to thicken the half and half into "buttermilk."  I'm not sure if there's a difference in taste or texture, but I usually do.

2. Butter and flour the cake pan.  Preheat the oven to 300°F. 

3. In the large bowl or mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely before adding the next.  Add the vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.

4. In the medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  

5. Using the spatula, fold about half of the flour into the butter mixture.  When it is completely combined, add about half the coffee mixture and fold gently.  Then add in about half the remaining flour, the rest of the coffee, then the rest of the flour in the same manner.  I found this tip about the flour on one of The Little Teochew's posts, but I cannot find the post again, alas...

6. Gently scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  With such a thick batter, it helps to go in a circle with the spatula, slowly moving the batter outward until it's vaguely uniform.  It doesn't need to be perfect, but approximate symmetry (approximate!) will lead to more even rising.  Bake at 300°F for about 75 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or with only tiny crumbs.  Cool for about 20 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto an oven rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!  Or, wrap it up, wait a couple of days and see the crumb and flavor develop to a new height :)

The cake turned out pretty good on its own, too.

Mocha Whipped Cream straight from the flames of It's on Fire!!!
Makes about 2 cups of whipped cream 

1 cup heavy whipping cream
5 tablespoons white sugar
¼ teaspoon granulated instant coffee 
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 large bowl 
1 balloon whisk
¼ teaspoon measure
1 tablespoon measure


1. Whip cream until it begins to thicken, then add sugar, coffee and cocoa.  Whip until the cream starts to form stiff peaks, but be careful not to churn it into butter.  I over-whip just until it can hold up as frosting.  Adjust flavorings to taste.  Enjoy!  Hopefully with some cake :)

Happy Birthday, Dad!
Postscript:  Hey, look, today is Friday the 13th!  Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary has happened today... 


  1. I hope you didn't seriously injure something after finishing this post, though I'm guessing damage to self and nearby objects would probably have occurred due to excitement upon arrival of the mixer..... Hooray for tasty coffee cake! That is a neat mixer (with one of the more awkward designs I have seen for a stand mixer). :)

    1. I didn't break any bones or equipment, if you must know :P Yes, I was so happy about the cake! I've never made a cake that had coffee *in* it before rather than meant to be eaten *with* coffee, so I'm glad it turned out edible. The stand mixer is pretty neat, and functional. And it was under $50 >_< That was a rather important part in purchasing it....