Our coffee obsession
Editor’s Note: Living in the Colorado High Country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful. Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude.Espresso … latte … cappuccino … café au lait … COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE. We brew it freshly every morning, visit coffee bars daily, carry containers of it wherever we go, and speak with great earnestness about which beans are best and the qualitative differences between various brewing methods. We’re obsessed. If you are among the many who share this passion, you’ll like the pound cake featured in this column. It is a coffee-lover’s delight. The flavor of java is rich and pronounced and complimented by the bitterness of the walnuts. The cake is only mildly sweet, so little interferes with the dominant coffee taste. Choose between the two glaze recipes. I prefer the vanilla one; it adds a bit of sweetness and reminds me of coffee with cream and sugar. But if you like your brew with nothing in it and want a double-hit, use the coffee glaze. Though ready to eat as soon as it is cooled and glazed, I find this cake is at its best the day after it has been baked; the flavors mellow. I also like to accompany each slice with either vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.Be sure and use a pan with a middle tube, such as a Bundt, when making this cake. It needs heat from both sides to set the batter quickly and prevent the possibility of fallingThe cake freezes well. Defrost it and add the glaze before serving.(Adjusted for altitudes above 8,000 feet)Make in a 12 cup Bundt pan. You can successfully half this recipe
Cake Ingredients1/2 cup of milk5 tablespoons of instant coffee granules1 1/3 cups of unsalted butter at room temperature1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar4 large eggs, at room temperature2 2/3 plus 2 tablespoons flour (gently spoon the flour into a measuring cup and sweep the top to level it; don’t dip the measuring cup into the flour or you will get too much)1/2 teaspoon salt1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 cup of walnuts, chopped medium Vanilla Glaze1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 tablespoons cream or milk1 1/2 teaspoons vanillaA pinch of salt1-2 cups confectioners’ sugarCoffee Glaze1 tablespoon butter, melted2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 3 tablespoons warm milk or cream1-2 cups of confectioners’ sugarA pinch of saltPreheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if you are using a dark metal pan), with a rack in the center position. Grease and flour the pan or spray it well with Baker’s Joy, wiping the spray with a paper towel to assure uniform coverage. Be sure the pan’s central tube is well greased and floured. Warm the milk in a small bowl, add the instant coffee and stir until it is dissolved. Set mixture aside to cool.
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Set the mixture aside.Cream the room-temperature butter with the granulated sugar until the mixture is lightened in color and fluffy. Take your time with this; it makes a big difference in the cake’s texture.Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.Add the flour mixture alternately with the coffee-milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix the batter gently after each addition. Don’t overbeat the batter at this stage.Stir the walnuts in with a rubber spatula.Pour or spoon the batter into the cake pan, smoothing and leveling it as you do so.Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, the time will depend on the size and shape of your pan. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.Remove the cake to a cooling rack. Wait about 15 minutes, invert the cake, carefully remove the pan, and let it cool.Prepare the glaze: Whisk the melted butter, milk or cream (mixed with instant coffee for the coffee glaze) and salt until combined. If making the vanilla glaze, add the vanilla at this stage. Add about a cup of confectioners’ sugar and mix well. Continue adding the sugar, a bit at a time, until the glaze reaches the consistency you want. If it becomes too thick, add a bit more milk or cream. Drizzle it decoratively over the cooled cake.This recipe is inspired by one in the Bundt Cookbook.Contact Vera Dawson at email@example.com with baking questions.Vail, Colorado