Some guidelines for adding flavors:
Seeds: 1 teaspoon or less of aromatic seeds such as caraway, fennel or anise, or as much as 3 to 4 tablespoons poppy seeds or toasted sesame seeds.
Citrus: Grate the zest of a medium orange or large lemon directly into the bowl to catch the spray of fragrant oil as well as zest; you can add 1 teaspoon orange flower water with the orange zest, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract with the lemon zest.
Cardamom: Crushed seeds from 3 or 4 pods or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Saffron: 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed and sprinkled over the cream a few minutes before using. —Alice Medrich
Line the bottom of an 8-inch round pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. Preheat the oven to 375° F with a rack in the lower third.
Whisk the flour and baking powder together thoroughly. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla on high speed until it is thick and pale, 3 to 4 minutes.
Beat in the melted butter, then add the flour mixture and fold and stir until blended. Stir in the cream and any add-ins. Scrape into the pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool.
After at least 10 minutes (but you can wait as long as you like), slide a slim knife or spatula around the edges of the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the paper liner.
Turn the cake right side up to cool completely on the rack before using or storing. Cake keeps at room temperature, wrapped airtight, for about 3 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).