Salt-cured egg yolks—in all physical states—are ubiquitous in Asian cuisine. Cooks crumble the gold into seafood stir-fries (pla meuk phad kai kem); stuff orbs into bean-paste mooncakes (the moon-like yolk to be enjoyed—or, if you are like me, gouged out—during Mid-Autumn Festival); and inject it, in liquid form, into steamed buns (called lou sah bao, literally “leaking sand bun”—the diner must be so careful, so methodical, with their first bite).
Brined for about a month, salt-preserved eggs—typically sold whole, still in the shell—add a bit of umami gold to anything they touch. The brine penetrates the shell, turning the yolk neon-orange, to a texture that’s somehow both crumbly and oozy. For sake of expediency, I went with a dry cure, applying salt directly to yolks. The curing takes just a few days (curing eggs whole will take closer to 30 days) and, while these yolks emerge flat, they get beaten to smithereens anyway. Because the curing project requires some foresight, consider preserving a few extra yolks. Kept in an airtight container in the fridge, they’ll stay good for up to 2 weeks. You can grate cured yolks over salads, pastas, or amp up an aioli. If, however, you happen to be at or near an Asian grocery, you’ll find salt-preserved eggs right in the egg section; grab those and proceed right onto step 3.
Here, cured egg yolks provide a rich saltiness that heightens the sweetness—and deepens the savoriness—of pound cake. The sugar migrates pan-ward, creating a crisp, lacquered crust that yields to a tight crumb. Look out for stray bits of salty egg yolk; if you are like me, you’ll pick them out, and feed them to the person you love. The cake is sturdy enough for dunking into an afternoon milky tea, and elegant (but, you know, casual about it) enough for a dinner party.
- Prep time 48 hours
- Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Makes 1 bundt
- Salted egg yolks:
large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups
(340 grams) white pastry flour
1 3/4 teaspoons
2 1/2 cups
(500 grams) sugar
large eggs, room temperature
salted egg yolks, room temperature
(454 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- Salted egg yolks:
- Line the bottom of a shallow airtight container with half of the salt. Make 4 wells using the back of a tablespoon measure, and carefully nestle in the 4 yolks. Gently cover the yolks with the remaining salt (though, you might not need all of it). Cover the container and let the yolks cure for 48 hours in the fridge.
- On the third day, brush the salt off the yolks—you can gently rinse them under cool water if the salt is clinging stubbornly—and discard the curing salt. Stored in an airtight container, salt-cured egg yolks will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks until you’re ready to use them.
- Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease a bundt pan, and set aside. In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the sugar, eggs, and egg yolks. Whip on medium until thick and glossy, almost like a pale yellow meringue, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly stream in the hot butter. Crank the speed to medium-high and whip another 2 minutes, or until the butter is well-incorporated. (Some stray bits of salty egg yolk are A-OK.) Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in installments, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. As soon as all traces of flour are gone, stop mixing, and transfer batter to the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, and bounces back when pressed lightly. Let cool slightly in the pan before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool completely.