I have been skating around brown sugar pound cakes for a long time now. Staring at recipes, thinking about making them, backing off and choosing a different recipe at the last minute. We have a complicated relationship, me and brown sugar. I love it plain–I steal pinch-fuls every time I bake–but many brown sugar flavored desserts are way too sweet for me. And sometimes things are labeled as brown sugar, but they pretty much taste like the white sugar versions. But I adore pound cake and could not help but be curious. So I finally tackled it, albeit with a few minor alterations: namely salt and booze. This definitely tastes like brown sugar and is not too sweet; I would go so far as to call it the best brown sugar dessert I’ve ever had.
While we’re on the topic of pound cake, I’d like to make another thing clear. Yes powdered sugar based icings and drizzles are prettier, and yes I use them sometimes, but truly at the end of the day a transparent, granulated sugar based glaze brushed all over a bundt cake or pound cake tastes the best. I know it is not pretty and therefore not the fashionable thing to do to one’s pound cake, but let’s face it pound cakes were never about looks. And that crispy sugared exterior that you get with the granulated sugar glaze is the best part of the whole cake.
- For the cake:
- 1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2¼ cups (270 g) AP flour
- ½ t baking powder
- 1 t fine sea salt
- 1 t good quality coarse sea salt, such as sel gris or fleur de sel
- 1½ cups (330 g) packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ t vanilla
- ¾ cup whole milk
- For the glaze:
- 1.2 cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
- 2 T water
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 T liquor of choice (I used Kahlua but I could also imagine rum or whiskey)
- ½ t good quality coarse sea salt
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray the inside of a 10 cup bundt pan with an oil-flour combo, such as Baker's Joy. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salts. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping and beating after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture and milk in 4 and 3 additions, alternating between them and beginning and ending with the flour. If using an electric mixer, keep the speed on low and do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for approximately one hour, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with only a few crumbs attached. The sides of the cake will also begin to pull away from the pan. Let the cake cool in the for 15 minutes, during which time you can prepare the glaze, before turning out onto a piece of parchment paper on a cooling rack (the parchment paper keeps the cake from sinking into the rack). Brush the glaze onto the cake while it is still warm, 2 or 3 layers, and make sure you let it drizzle down the center hole as well. Let cool completely before slicing.
- For the glaze: place the sugar and water into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk it as it melts; when it is completely melted and mostly clear (the brown sugar will keep it from becoming completely clear), add the salt, vanilla and liquor. Let simmer for 1 minute. Brush onto the cake while still warm.
As always, affiliate links were used in this post, but only to link to items I would already be discussing and linking to.