Have you ever asked yourself the question, “could cake get even better?”
Our world is made up of decade upon decade of questions and answers.
Could man fly? Could we step foot on the moon? Could we store great amounts of information for universal access?
The answers to these once-fantastic questions have shaped our lives and now, it is time for another question, and another equally life-changing answer.
No, I will not be so bold as to list myself alongside such notables as the Wright brothers and Neil Armstrong, but I do make a pretty fantastic cake.
We are finding our way out of winter. Departing somewhat from the season of comfort and warmth, and saying “hello” to pretty food. Color, freshness, and edible frills - this is what spring eating means to me.
This dish is a dessert, a breakfast, or a best friend when your real life best friend won’t reply to your texts.
We are making a slightly fancier version of French toast. Except that in this case, toast is cake.
This is my favorite pound cake. It is incredibly moist, perfectly dense, and boasts the most wonderful crisp, sugary top.
You might consider making this cake a day in advance so it has plenty of time to cool. In a perfect world, this cake would be Friday night’s dessert and the leftovers (a.k.a. this pan-fried situation) would be Saturday morning’s breakfast.
Take the world as you like it, but please make this cake.
Slice the cake and whisk together a mixture of eggs, cream, and vanilla.
This egg mixture will coat the cake and act as the glue between our cake and a crispy layer of sugar and sliced almonds.
This is a delicate process as the cake is soft, so work quickly and nimbly.
After the cake has been coated, heat a bit of butter in a small, nonstick frying pan.
Fry the cake over medium heat until crisp and very golden. Your kitchen will smell amazing, but the magic does not end there.
Now, we can consider toppings. Sure, fried cake needs no toppings, but when did that ever stop me?
Consider fresh berries, Nutella, or, the very magical duo of homemade lime curd and fresh whipped cream.
If you have never made fresh lime curd or lemon curd before, let this be your moment. It really is one of the easiest things you will ever make and the taste is so far beyond anything you could ever find in a jar.
Because a bit of time is required, I would suggest making the lime curd while your pound cake bakes. This way, the curd can chill while your cake cools. It’s a science, a math equation, a discipline in efficiency, and it’s pretty darn delicious.
Happy Spring! Let’s live it.
Pan-Fried Almond-Crusted Pound Cake
serves 4 (with extra cake and lime curd)
Cook’s Note: This recipe has quite a few steps, but can come together quickly if you prepare a few of the elements in advance. I like to make the pound cake and lime curd a day in advance, so that both are cool and ready to use when it comes time to fry the cake.
for the almond pound cake
recipe loosely adapted from Ina Garten // makes one loaf cake
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray.
Place butter in the work bowl of your stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to whip for one minute. Add in sugar and cream together on medium speed for two minutes; until the butter and sugar are fluffy and well-combined.
With the mixer on medium speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in almond extract and sour cream.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Pour the dry ingredients into the mixer and beat on low speed until the batter is smooth and thick.
Fold the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 50 minutes; until the top is brown and crisp, and the cake bounces back slightly when tapped.
Cook’s Note: This is the perfect time to begin making your lime curd. Recipe follows.
Allow the cake to cool for one hour before flipping out of the pan and onto a cutting board.
Let the cake rest while you prepare the coating. Or, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to two days.
for the lime curd
recipe adapted from Ina Garten
Cook’s Note: This recipe makes more lime curd than is needed for the recipe, but is delicious atop cakes, toast, muffins, or scones!
3 medium limes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
pinch of kosher salt
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outermost peel from the limes, trying to avoid getting much of the white pith, as this will make your curd bitter.
Place peels and sugar in the work bowl of your food processor and run on high speed until the lime peel is in fine pieces.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, cream together butter and prepared lime and sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes; until fluffy.
With the mixture still running, drop in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Reduce speed to low and mix in lime juice and salt.
Transfer the mixture to a small, 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook the curd, whisking constantly, until it has thickened to a thin, custard-like consistency and reaches 170 degrees F. This process will take approximately 10 minutes.
Cook’s Note: While it will be tempting, do not try to rush the cooking process as the curd could quickly scorch on the bottom of the pan.
Pour the thickened curd through a fine mesh strainer and into a storage container. Refrigerate until the curd is cool.
Curd will last in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
for the almond crust
4 slices prepared almond pound cake (about 3/4-inch in thickness)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup coarse, raw sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.
In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, half & half, and vanilla extract.
Place almonds and coarse sugar on a large plate and mix together using your finger tips.
Working with one slice at a time, carefully lay each piece of pound cake into the egg mixture, flipping so that each side receives a thin, even coating.
Gently transfer the cake to the almond mixture, pressing the mixture onto the sides of the cake so that it is evenly coated.
Place a small, nonstick frying pan over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Once the butter has melted and is just beginning to sizzle, lay the prepared slice of cake into the pan. Fry, watching carefully, so that the pan does not get too hot. Cook until the almond crust is golden brown, but not burnt. Flip and fry on the opposite side. This process will take 3-4 minutes.
Transfer the cake to a heat-proof plate and keep warm in the preheated oven. Fry the remaining three slices of cake.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Place heavy cream into the work bowl of your stand mixer and beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble, top your warm cake with a heavy spoonful of whipped cream and lime curd. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if desired. Serve immediately.