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Classic Pound Cake

Though best when freshly baked, this cake keeps well for several days. The recipe is from "The Best Recipe." The recipe looks complicated, but truly isn't-and it makes a spectacularly good pound cake.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cake flour

Put an oven rack at the upper middle level and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-by 5-inch-by-3 1/2-inch loaf pan (7 1/2-cup capacity) and line bottom and sides with parchment paper by placing two pieces of paper, one lengthwise and one crosswise, into pan.

Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 15 seconds. With machine still on, take about 30 seconds to sprinkle in the sugar. Beat mixture until light, fluffy and almost white, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping mixer once or twice to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.

Mix eggs, yolks, vanilla and water in a 2-cup measure with a pour spout.

With mixer set at medium-high speed, add egg mixture to butter/sugar mixture in a very slow, thin stream. Finally, beat in salt.

Remove bowl from mixer stand. Turn 1/2 cup flour into sieve and sprinkle it over batter. Fold gently with rubber spatula, scraping up from bottom of bowl, until flour is incorporated. Repeat twice more, adding flour in 1/2 cup increments.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake until toothpick inserted into crack running along top comes out clean, 70 to 80 minutes. Let cake rest in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto wire cooling rack.

Place second wire rack on cake bottom, then turn cake top side up. Cool to room temperature, remove and discard parchment, wrap cake in plastic, then in foil. Store cake at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.

Thursday, April 12, 2001

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