Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake

I love holidays, and today is World Nutella Day! Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso declared today a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to eat and enjoy Nutella.

My relationship with Nutella goes back to the 1980's, when I spent a year studying law and political science in the south of France. Living in a crappy chambre de bonne (read tiny garret with no kitchen), I bought whatever convenience foods I could afford at the local Monoprix, where I discovered the joys of Nutella. Spread on a fresh baguette, this tartine was the perfect sweet snack or indulgent breakfast. When I returned to the States, there was no Nutella to be found, and it dropped off my radar until a few years ago, when I came upon it at an Italian specialty store. These days, you can find it everywhere, even at Target and Costco.

My favorite way to eat Nutella is simply spread on grilled toast. Crepes are good too. Since this is a baking blog, I wanted to try it in a recipe. Charlie gave me Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman, for my birthday last year, and I'm sure the recipe for Nutella Pound Cake was bookmarked when she gave it to me. The pound cake was easy to make and delicious.

Baker's Notes: The Nutella makes it easy to make a neat swirled marble cake, but beause the Nutella is heavier than the vanilla batter, it sank to the bottom. Next time, I'd be tempted to mix a few tablespoons of batter into the Nutella, just to even things out a bit. My cake was also a bit damp in the middle, so be careful to bake it long enough.

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake
adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes: 100 Simple Recipes for Extraordinary Bundt Cakes, Pound Cakes, Snacking Cakes and Other Good-To-The-Last-Crumb Treats

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened  (2 sticks)
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 13-ounce jar Nutella

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour or use Bakers Joy . In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1½ cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes ( I used my stand mixer). With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for just 30 seconds longer.

Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not overmix.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.

Make Ahead: the pound cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

(Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf)

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