All Bets Are Off Monday: I'm having my cake and eating it too.

BOILERPLATE: Have you heard? I’m a finalist in the 2009 Bloggies. Best-Kept Secret Blog! No shitting. I’ve added a new page to the site specifically to pander for votes.

On one hand, I slept like crap last night, I’m exhausted, and I know I’ll be able to spew information about pound cake at you more efficiently if the television is off, which will facilitate going to bed. On the other, I am a pathetic sucker for medieval history, and NBC is airing a terrible made-for-TV movie with Mira “Didn’t You Win an Oscar? We All Thought You Were Going to Be a Good Actress” Sorvino about the Templars (or, as they are more commonly know, the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, or Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici, in the Latin).

A sign of good things to come.

Templars, 1; Early Bedtime, 0. I have a problem; too much schooling, I think. Kids, go out and play some kickball and spend your teen years sneaking out of the house to get drunk down by the lake, or this is what will happen to you. The saddest part? I’m not actually watching the movie. I know all about the Knights Templar. But just knowing the movie is on makes me happy.

Sigh. My problem may be bigger than I had at first suspected.

Perhaps the Templars would not have come to such an ignominious end (i.e., being stripped of all their money and land and being burned at the stake) if they had had some orange and coriander pound cake with passion fruit curd with which to bribe the crowned heads and leading clergy of Europe.

Any excuse to use the Professional 600 is a good excuse.

So I have this problem (aside from the Templar thing) – you know, the one where I’m crazy, and I pay exorbitant amounts of money to psychiatrists in an effort to re-wire the bits of brain that cause me to be crazy despite my brain’s seeming resistance to assistance? Some days I’m crazier than others, and sometimes trying to switch from one anti-crazy medication to another actually makes me crazier and I have to take tranquilizers to make it through the days until the medications balance out and my liver regenerates itself.

On the really crazy days, cooking dinner is at the bottom of the list of things I want to do when I get home from work, even lower than expressing the dogs’ anal glands. And yet, I can always bake. Might there be some chemical similarities between anti-psychotics and cake? There’s a journal article and lucrative research career in there somewhere.

NOTE: Please do not leave any comments about St. John’s Wort, or B-vitamins, or Scientology or the all-banana diet that helped your cousin overcome her depression.* Some of us have actual brainial (I believe that’s the technical term) problems requiring medication, possibly for the rest of our lives. And I am fine with that, and it took real work for me to be fine with that. So if you are not fine with that and choose to say so, I will gladly invite you to suck my metaphorical left nut.

*If this is true, I am happy for your cousin.

The Templars are crying out to us from the past. Can’t you hear them? “Pouuuund Caaaaaake.”

Ergo, Brian made some chicken caesar salad while I made pound cake. I’ve never made a pound cake that made me really happy before; the moisture level is not quite right, the crumb is off, it turns to poison, whatever. I never like ’em. Then again, I never tried the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking before, and she’s never led me awry. Well, okay, I’ve only tried one recipe so far, but it worked and that does, statistically speaking, give her a 100% track record.

I used her recipe as a starting place, increased it by 50% (the picture of the cake in the book looked a little low to a girl raised on Entemann’s) and decided to dress it up a little with orange (pure orange oil, because the Pathmark oranges all looked painfully anemic) and coriander (freshly ground). The coriander has some really citrusy and spicy undertones that I thought would play nicely with the orange. When I asked Brian what he thought of the combo, he – who normally does not like to offer opinions on food-related matters – informed me that orange and coriander are commonly paired in flavored beers.

Validated by beer! All systems go.

FYI, I just turned the movie off because it was so terrible it was making me sad for the Templars despite the fact that they’ve all been dead for roughly 700 years.

Do not judge a book by it’s cover.

After much creaming and mixing – I’m talking about a combined total of oh, a good 17 minutes of mixing and creaming; Dorie is really into the creaming – I glopped my thick batter into a loaf pan, spooned the small bit of surplus into a tiny bundt pan, and set it in the oven.

I don’t mean to knock Dorie and all her mixing here. There’s not much leavening in pound cake so it really relies on the eggs for maximum lifting power, which means beating to aerate and create structure. I’m just saying, if you need to mix for 17 minutes, you might want to get yourself a stool or something.

Did it work?

You bet your sweet bippy!*

Look at that crumb. I mean, really look at it. That is one sexy, sexy crumb. If I had a DSLR, you’d really be all up in that crumb’s grill and you’d be all like, “Shit! Look at that fucking crumb! What have I been doing with my life?”

It was a really good crumb.

The crust was a little too crunchy just out of the oven, but the innards were perfectly moist. The orange and coriander hit just the right notes. This is, after all, a pound cake, and you want to taste the delicious, delicious butter. Which you do, along with the subtle orange flavor from the oil enhanced ever-so-slightly by the coriander, which also added a faint spicy nuttiness.

Aside: I just turned the movie back on. There’s a hidden gospel! That could destroy Christianity as we know it! Too bad NBC is 6 years too late to really milk the Dan Brown cash cow for all it’s worth!

*What the hell does that mean?

I will not waver in my mission to turn all liquids into curd.*

Aaaand the movie is off again.

There’s been a burst of curd around the foodblogosphere lately, mostly tangerine, as everyone tries to figure out what to do with the eleventymillion $3 crates of clementines they’ve bought. I love curd to begin with, and happened to have some passion fruit puree in the freezer from some geleés I’d made for a Christmas party. Yes, I made geleés, yes, they were really good and no, I didn’t tell you about it. Sometimes I need my private moments, internet, especially now that the whole Bloggie thing has caused me to become famous among dozens.

I love the tart-sweet tropical flavor of passion fruit and its wonderful sunny color, and I thought it would be a refreshing counterpoint to the buttery, buttery pound cake. I have an egg/sugar/fruit juice ratio that I usually rely on for curd but I didn’t have those amounts in the house and wasn’t about to run to the store, so I used the classic “throw what you have in a pot and hope for the best” method.

Another bonus of passion fruit: 100% tropical fruit purees come in convenient frozen pouches in the Latin aisle at the grocery store, so you can have wonderfully ripe, fragrant passion fruity foods at any time of the year.

*Within reason; I’m not going to go all Ice-9 and turn the seas into curd or anything.


Luckily, it totally worked, and before you could say “Bob’s your uncle!”* I had a lovely bowl of marigold-colored, deeply flavored curd. I covered it with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap down onto the curd’s surface so it wouldn’t form a skin (the curd, not the wrap; the wrap is already a skin, is it not?) and left it in the fridge to chill…

For roughly 3 minutes. Yes, I know I should have given it a little longer to cool down and firm up, but that would have meant waiting longer to eat pound cake, and waiting to eat pound cake is not one of my strong suits. Especially since I’d already eaten the cake from the overflow mini-bundt pan and found it to be painfully good.

Movie back on. It’s hard to bang these things out in an hour. Sometimes you need a brain break, which Mira Sorvino’s “acting” amply provides.

*What the hell does THAT one mean?

Dorie Greenspan comes through for us way better than Alan ever did.

I whipped a little cream up by hand with a whisk, because sometimes I like to get a little happy-hands-at-home and also my forearms aren’t in the shape they used to be. I cut a generous slice of pound cake – you really shouldn’t cut a piece of pound cake less than 1 inch thick, it’s pointless – topped it with silky curd running down the side and added a dollop of whipped cream and the barest dusting of ground coriander.

I’ll give you two guesses as to how good this tasted, but I bet you only need one. (If you need the second one, you may also be in need of psychopharmacologic assistance. Even I’m not that crazy). You’ve already heard about the pound cake. You’ve heard about the curd. Presumably, you’ve encountered whipped cream at some point in your life. Like lobster stuffed with tacos, combining these three delicious things only makes them more delicious: richness offset by tart fruit, topped of with a wisp of cream and an additional hint of spice.

Okay, seriously, did someone invent some kind of talent-sucking-out machine and strap Mira Sorvino in? I mean, she did win an Oscar, right? Am I thinking of someone else? I could be, sometimes she starts to blend into Gwyneth Paltrow.

This is all making it seem like I think about Mira Sorvino more than I do. Really, I never have until tonight.

The pound cake can also be shrouded in mystery, if need be.

Dorie instructs that the pound cake gets better if allowed to sit, wrapped in plastic wrap, and I’m pleased to report that she is right and I will be eating this for breakfast tomorrow.

Recipes to be posted tomorrow, when I am not so tired that I walk into the doorjamb and then bounce off the wall while trying to get from the den to the back door to let the dogs out.

0 thoughts on “All Bets Are Off Monday: I'm having my cake and eating it too.

  1. Lord have mercy. Please post recipe. The only thing better than pound cake, as I recall, was sex, and that was a loooooooooonng time ago…..

  2. omg, i can’t believe you worked expressing anal glands into a post about pound cake. i nearly choked on my cereal. you totally deserve that bloggie award (not just for this, but this was the icing on the cake.) love your blog.

  3. I read that first sentence as “I slept like a crab last night”, and I spent a good 5 minutes wondering how crabs sleep (and if they sleep at all). Clearly, I need to get a life…

  4. Out of all the commentable (yeah, that’s what I said) phrases in this post, THIS is the one that jumped out at me: “The coriander has some really citrusy and spicy undertones that I thought would play nicely with the orange.” Whereupon I immediately envisioned a nursery school environment in which Coriander shares its toys and snack with Orange.

    My talent for focusing on the inconsequential is really very highly developed.

  5. Are you telling me that that lovely piece in the last shot didn’t get eaten until this morning? You are such a bad liar!!!!

    These kinds of posts are why YOU ARE GOING TO WIN!
    We love you.

    Now out of my way….I need to find a way to jump into the picture (a la’ Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins”) and get to that slice before you do!

  6. Perfect timing! I needed a pound cake recipe for a special I’m running this weekend and this looks deeeee-lish! I may have to make like, 4 so I can eat 3 and have one left for customers because that orange-coriander combo? Wow.
    PS- Your blog is awesome.

  7. I too thought that the first picture depicted a piece of pound cake covered in a poached egg and I thought to myself, “This woman is a genius.” After reading the whole post (novel idea, reading…) I totally agree with myself. You’re a riot. Thanks!

  8. First, that looks FANTASTIC! I’m seriously jonesing for pound cake now, and we have snow in Maryland, so I won’t be going anywhere to get supplies (Not that I can’t drive in it – I grew up in Pittsburgh – but I don’t trust most of the natives to drive in it).

    Also, a Kurt Vonnegut reference? Nice!

  9. I totally thought it was a poached egg as well. And I ALSO have passion fruit pulp in my freezer, so I am seeing curd in my future, if not pound cake. MMMMMM.

  10. kay, tonight, i promise. it only takes 1/5 of a brain to watch american idol, so i can focus the rest on this.

    heather, that’s how i’m going to end all my sentences from now on. “yeah, that report would be a lot better…soaked in rum.” also, we soaked it in frangelico and it was fucking delicious.

    sarah, i can work anal glands into just about any conversation. i have a gift like that.

    paula, i am so doing that tomorrow morning. if there’s any cake left. or, i’ll make another one, and do it with that one.

    karen, sideways and scuttle-y, with one eye open. that’s what i imagine, anyway.

    kristin, it’s true. the coriander has never once hit the orange over the head with a tonka truck. they are a model for other spices and citrus fruits.

    anna, already eaten last night, along with another piece this morning. TOO LATE! also, seriously, stop with the jinxing.

    kay, thanks, and the recipes will be up tonight.

    kaitlin, i agree with you as well.

    sara, i aim to please.

    trillian, i hear you. have of new jersey now freaks out in the snow; they must all be transplants. when i was young, i had to learn to drive uphill, on a solid sheet of ice.

    eleanor, true dat.

    lisa, it is brilliant. too bad i didn’t come up with it myself: you can thank the simpsons: homer, at a fancy restaurant: “i’ll have your first finest food stuffed with your second finest food.” waiter: “ah, lobster stuffed with tacos. excellent choice.”

    jesse, seriously people, what kind of egg would have a yolk that massive? i know you can get ostrich eggs at whole foods sometimes, but really.

  11. At first glance! Not with looking at the picture seriously.

    ….Anyway, I’m pretty sure it was the pander page that made me think about your brilliance with the poached eggs.

  12. 1) 3 sticks of butter is always a fantastic sign in my book.
    2) I always have the tv on…for company…not because I’m really watching it.
    3) Do people really not get that “mental illnesses” including depression and anxiety are caused by an imbalance of chemicals within the body? Bananas just ain’t going to cut it.

  13. I’m kind of depressed that I just discovered your blog last week because it means that I’ve been missing out and I am now wasting “precious” time at work reading through as many of your previous posts as I can. I had to physically surpress my laughter as I read this one. Thanks for the inspiriation to make pound cake this weekend.

  14. That looks fantastic.

    I’m thinking that that might be a good way to self-medicate for the anxiety that has gone to 11 recently (you know, naturally anxious + PhD thesis must be submitted before March 16 = 11).

  15. Dori, darling that she may be, has neglected the penultimate use for poundcake (I think soaked in rum is the ultimate, and I agree the edit was totally meant to be) – slice that nice thick piece and make french toast with it. Scoop vanilla ice cream on it. Breakfast of dreams.

  16. Pingback:

  17. jesse, i am a fucking killer with the poached eggs, it’s true.

    kate, no, people don’t get it. you know what else they don’t get? that bipolar people are not deranged maniacs who are barely functioning sub-humans. not that i am bitter.

    but know this, people: STOP USING THE WORD BIPOLAR AS AN INSULT. do we still call people “retarded”?

    okay, sometimes we do. so do me a favor, and at least use it sparingly.

    allison, i’m depressed that my blog has induced your depression. my only advice: pace yourself. you don’t want to bust a gut.

    niki, you know what might help the anxiety level? not wasting your time on this blog instead of finishing your thesis. unless your thesis is about pound cake, in which case feel free to plagiarize. also helpful: valium, and dvds of the first 2 seasons of gilmore girls.

    sara, i am so making another pound cake this weekend. poundcake french toast could give croissant french toast a run for its money (though i seriously recommend croissant french toast. holy shit.)

  18. “Did someone invent some kind of talent-sucking-out machine and strap Mira Sorvino in?” You deserve the Bloggie for that line alone.

  19. I’ve been meaning to ask. You keep mentioning that you are watching t.v. and cooking at the same time. Have you gotten a second t.v. that I do not know about? Or do you cook between commercials? Yes, of everything you’ve written, that is what has stuck out in my mind most. :)

  20. I am so making poundcake tomorrow. Even though my baking is usually full of fail. This just looks. so. good. I have some homemade lemon marmalade that is looking for a place.
    I would have so watched this Templar movie if I knew about it, even if it was terrible. I’m a medieval history junkie too.

  21. catherine, thank you, but i’m pretty sure it’s true.

    sarah, no, we don’t have a second TV and i never watch TV when i cook (although i usually have the ipod on so i can sing along, because i’m cute like that). depending on how much time to write, i write downstairs and have the TV on in the background for company while i’m posting. if i’m pressed for time i write upstairs with no TV at all so i’m not distracted; i’m like a moth to the flame of animal planet.

    that was a very long answer to a very short question.

    erika, i’m sorry you missed the movie, and yet i also hope it never sees the light of day again. here, i’ll spoil the ending for you: mira sorvino throwns the newly-found gospel of yeshua into the sea lest it be revealed and rip away the comfort of christianity from the millions. also, the gospel was a fake in the first place, and mira falls in love with scott speedman. the end.

  22. I saw the movie; even for a Templar junkie, it was time and brain cells wasted. Not bad enough to be good.

    Michelle, lots of us need real drugs for real brain problems. We feel your frustration and are infuriated with you about all those “naturally healthy cures that would work so much better.” I would LOVE a way to interrupt those oh-so-helpful people when they are recommending crap. The best I have come up with is a cold “thank you” which is so unsatisfying.

    But back to food,I am still using my grandmother’s pound cake recipe, where everything is in pounds, including the sour cream. I don’t think I can even try another recipe – something in my brain, I imagine.

  23. As aunt to one niece with bipolar and another niece who has intellectual disabilities and autism, I can attest that getting medication right can make all the difference in the world.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog and your sense of humor. I’ve never made a curd before and you’ve inspired me to try.

  24. aldyth, so true. i really think this is the one, and although getting up on the right dose is hard, i think it will be worth it.

    glad you like it here! curds are so simple and rewarding, and so much better than what you buy in a jar, i urge you to try.

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