Springing into March and Maple Syrup Time

pound cake recipe

“March is a month of considerable frustration – it is so near Spring and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.” –Thalassa Cruso (known as “The Julia Child of Horticulture”, 1909-1997)

While waiting for the March Lion to turn into a Lamb, for the snow to melt and the ground to thaw, consider baking one of the three cakes below (taken from “The Food52 Cookbook” by Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, 2011).

Maple Yogurt Pound Cake*

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Grade B Maple Syrup
3/4 cup yogurt, preferably whole milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 & 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and generously butter a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
  1. In large mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir just to incorporate. Add the oil and fold gently until the oil is absorbed into the batter. Make sure not to over mix the batter.
  1. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet in the oven and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Cut around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Turn the cake out onto the rack, then turn it upright on the rack and cool completely. Serve with fresh sliced strawberries and fresh whipped cream!

*Note: This pound cake is very subtle in its flavoring with just a hint of sweetness. I added blueberries to my own (below) which gave it another layer of flavor and made it more like a breakfast bread. I found that the taste of the cake was richer the day after baking, and enjoyed it most for breakfast or afternoon tea topped with a little honey, strawberry jam, and fresh whipped cream. Yum! 

Faulknerian Family Spice Cake with Caramel Icing

Ingredients for cake:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (yes, shortening)
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground mace (don’t leave this out)
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for caramel icing:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

maple pound cake

Instructions for cake:

  1. To make the cake, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan and set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth.
  1. Sift together the dry ingredients, twice. Add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Add the vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, turn out of the pan, and allow to cool completely on the rack.

Instructions for caramel icing:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the brown sugar and cream. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Return to the heat and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Let the mixture cool, and then beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Ice the cooled cake.

Lemony Cream Cheese Pancakes with Blueberries

homemade pancake recipeIngredients:
1 & 1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
6 ounces cold cream cheese, cut up
1 tbsp. melted butter, plus additional for the pan
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 & 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Honey, maple syrup, or jam, for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and buttermilk. Add the cream cheese and mix until it has separated into uniformly small lumps, about the size of large cottage cheese curds. Stir in the milted butter, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  1. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then stir to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry; fold them gently into the batter.
  1. Heat a griddle or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Lower the heat to medium and butter or oil the pan. Drop the batter into the pan by 1/3 cupful’s, making sure not to crowd the pancakes. Once the batter has spread, drop in the berries. (You might want to drizzle some batter over to cover them.) These need to be cooked a bit longer than you might expect; they won’t bubble as quickly or as much as plain pancakes. Turn down the heat if necessary to keep them from overbrowning and let them puff up their full extent after you turn them, which will take 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with honey or maple syrup or jam.

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