One of my most favorite jobs ever was as substitute teacher at the local preschool. And one of my favorite units of the curriculum was Alphabet Snack (surprise, surprise.) The XYZ Cake always made an appearance at all the big events – Spring Tea, and the Moving Up Ceremony in particular. Some of you may have been following my Twitter and Facebook marathon pound cake endeavors recently – I’ve made an embarrassment of pound cakes, trying to adapt and perfect my recipe. I think I finally got it. Thanks go to hardlikearmour and betteirene, who guided me in the ways of pound cake. It’s a simple in appearance but problematic beast of a cake, what with all the beating found in most recipes. The greatest success I found with Rose Levy Beranbaum’s mixing technique (thx hla!), which seems counterintuitive for a pound cake-type cake, but it really works great.
Surprisingly, I’m not sick of this cake yet, and not so surprisingly, my family thinks I’m a little nutty with this latest obsession, although I’ve yet to hear any complaints among all the pound cake sampling. I guess, technically, this isn’t a pound cake at all, as it doesn’t use a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. I also use leavener, where traditional pound cakes solely rely on the power of the beaten sugar, butter and eggs to leaven the cake. So let’s call it what it is – the very delicious XYZ Cake. —mrslarkin
a whole lotta pound cake
plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 1/4 cups
unbleached all-purpose flour
Grated zest of two whole lemons
unsalted butter, cut into chunks, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9” or 10” tube pan. I use one with a removable bottom.
Stir together the yogurt, lemon juice and eggs. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the lemon zest. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds.
Add butter and about ½ of the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for about a minute. Batter will thicken. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add half of the remaining egg mixture, and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add remaining egg mixture and beat for about 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Spoon batter into the prepared tube pan and smooth the top. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes on center rack, until golden-brown. Use a bamboo skewer or cake tester to check for doneness.
Cool cake in a draft-free area for 30 minutes.
Run a thin-bladed knife or small offset spatula around the insides of the pan and tube. Unmold the cake from the outer pan. Run a thin-bladed knife or small offset spatula underneath the cake. Remove the cake from the pan. It helps greatly if you have an extra pair of hands as you invert the cake, remove the tube, and carefully flip the cake onto a cake plate. This is almost as much fun as flipping a frittata!
Serve with fresh cut strawberries and copious amounts of whipped cream. Lemon curd would also be a nice accompaniment. Or ice cream. Or blueberry compote. Cake can be made a few days in advance. Leftovers toast up very nicely, too.