You'll take the cake, then lick your lips



The Cake Book

By Tish Boyle

Mastering Cakes

By Elinor Klivans

William-Sonoma / 2006 / $19.95

Mastering Cakes is a fine introduction to the essentials of cake baking. Following the tried-and-true formula of other volumes in the Williams-Sonoma Mastering series, this is a step-by-step lesson plan packed with information and illustrated with beautiful photographs.

All the basics of ingredients, tools and techniques are here. The text, by cookbook author Elinor Klivans (who also does freelance work for The Sun), is presented in clear, precise language. All the classics are represented - angel food cakes, simple butter cakes, poundcakes, genoise - and simple variations are included for each recipe.

The book is structured to build on experience, starting with simple cakes and leading up to the more challenging. All in all, an excellent way to learn your way around a whisk.

Lemon-Soaked Ginger Poundcake

Serves 12 to 14

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons grated, peeled fresh ginger

1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2/3 cup sugar

confectioners' sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan. Dust the pan with flour. Sift together the flours, ground ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 to 40 seconds after each one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Beat in the grated ginger, crystallized ginger, lemon zest and vanilla. At low speed, add the sifted mixture in 3 additions, alternating it with the sour cream in 2 additions. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooking rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto another rack. Place the cake, on the rack, over a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: Combine lemon juice and sugar in a small, nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat.

Using a pastry brush, dab syrup generously all over the surface of the warm cake, allowing it to soak in before reapplying. Dab any syrup that has dropped onto the baking sheet onto the cake. Let cool completely and dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or refrigerate for up to a week.

From "The Cake Book"

Per serving (based on 14 servings): 428 calories, 5 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 11 grams saturated fat, 63 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 102 milligrams cholesterol, 174 milligrams sodium

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