Burnt-Sugar Vanilla Pound Cake
This classic pound cake uses both vanilla extract and seeds to create a moist, lightly flecked, golden crumb. Burnt-sugar syrup, added to the batter and brushed gently on top after baking, further moistens this delicately sweet treat.
2 2/3 cups sugar
3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
5 large eggs
1. Make the burnt-sugar syrup: Heat oven to 325° F. Butter and flour one 8-cup (9- by 5- by 3-inch) loaf pan and set aside. Bring a small pot of water to simmer and maintain. Place 1 1/3 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a small, nonstick saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar at the edges of the pan begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and stir until liquefied and dark amber -- about 2 minutes. Let sit for 1 minute. Slowly add 1 cup of the simmering water. The mixture will steam and thicken. Return to the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth -- about 15 minutes. Carefully measure out 1/4 cup syrup. Set aside. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the remaining lemon juice to the remaining syrup and keep warm.
2. Make the batter: Sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl. Cream the butter, remaining sugar, and the vanilla bean seeds together in a large bowl using an electric mixer set on high speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition. Add the reserved 1/4 cup burnt-sugar syrup, remaining vanilla extract, and the flour, in fourths, mixing thoroughly with each addition. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean -- about 1 hour. Cool for 5 minutes before unmolding. Brush the warm cake with 1/2 cup of the remaining burnt-sugar syrup. Serve at room temperature with the remaining syrup. Yields: One 9- by 5-inch cake.