Wednesday, September 26, 2018

In the Kitchen: French Pound Cake

I first met Mardi Michels at a Food Bloggers of Canada conference back in 2013, and have had the pleasure of bumping into her at least once every year since then. Not only does she write her popular food blog Eat.Live.Travel.Write. she's also a full-time French elementary school teacher, and she runs cooking classes for boys aged 7-14. Fun Fact: Mardi never took any time off to write her gorgeous debut cookbook In the French Kitchen with Kids. What a woman. After days spent teaching the boys, she would go home and work on the cookbook. As someone who has written a cookbook, I pretty much locked myself in the house for five months, and the thought of working full time while doing so terrifies me. Mardi is a powerhouse of creative energy and culinary skill, and I'm so happy that she has birthed the most gorgeous book baby!
The first thing I noticed, after the gorgeous photography, is how well written the recipes are. The ingredients are listed by weight, as well as Imperial and/or Metric equivalents, and the recipes are incredibly thorough with a step by step method that will surely yield success. There is no second guessing when it comes to technique or ingredients or equipment. Mardi really thought of everything, which is essential when you're encouraging the first time cook to get into the kitchen. Yes, the idea is for kids to be cooking from this cookbook, but it's a fabulous cookbook for anyone of any skill level. If you've just left home for the first time and are cooking on your own, In The French Kitchen with Kids has terrific recipes for the beginner cook and baker. And, who wouldn't want to impress their friends with a platter of freshly-made croissants?!
Mardi has a savoury selection of recipes such as Crunchy Fish Cakes; Shepherd's Pie; Steak with Oven-Baked Fries; Bacon, Cheese and Onion Quiche; and Mr. Neil's Roast Chicken, all of which look fabulous, but it's her baked goods that really caught my eye. There is Crème Caramel; Chocolate Mousse; and Strawberry Tart, but also recipes for Pains au Chocolat and Palmiers using homemade Quick Croissant and Rough Puff Pastry doughs, respectively. I haven't made croissants from scratch since cooking school (way back last century), and I always buy my puff pastry, but Mardi has inspired me to make my own. See, even a baker and cook like myself who has years and years of culinary experience is inspired by this gorgeous cookbook. I really love how there is something for everyone in Mardi's book. Well done, my friend!
I had the pleasure of chatting with Mardi at her book signing here in Saskatoon at McNally Robinson, and to celebrate her and her book, I whipped up the French Pound Cake recipe from In the French Kitchen with Kids. It's utterly delightful. Full of rich, buttery goodness, the pound cake is simple to prepare and the ingredients are likely on hand - it's pretty much equal amounts of butter, eggs, flour and sugar. I loved it up with fresh berries and the last of the violas from the garden, as well as dollops of sweetened whipped cream aka Chantilly Cream. This is an excellent recipe to have in your back pocket as it makes a delicious and simple dessert, and any leftovers, like Mardi suggested, are tasty when toasted and slathered with jam. I really love it when good things happen to my friends, and I'm so pleased that Mardi has written such a lovely cookbook. In the French Kitchen with Kids is cookbook that will sit in my kitchen for years to come, and the pages are already stained with butter - the way all good cookbooks should be.
French Pound Cake
Salted butter, for greasing the pan
All-purpose flour, for the pan
1 cup (226 g) salted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream (p. 139) and fresh berries for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (175 ̊C). Generously butter and flour a 9- x 5-inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan. Place the pan on a sheet of parchment paper, trace around it with a pen, cut it out and use this parchment to line the bottom of the pan.
2. Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat or in the microwave in a glass bowl. Set it aside to cool slightly.
3. Beat the eggs and sugar with handheld electric beaters on high speed until thick, pale and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder to combine.
5. Using a rubber spatula, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just incorporated. 6. Gently pour in the melted, cooled butter and mix with a rubber spatula until completely combined.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until golden brown on top and springy to the touch. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.
8. Remove the cake pan from the oven, place it on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.
9. Run a blunt knife between the cake and the pan to loosen it, then unmold it, allowing it to come to room temperature on the wire rack, right side up.
10. Serve with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries. Or just eat it on its own.
11. You can store this in an airtight container or well covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Beyond that, it might be a little dry, but if you slice it thickly you can toast it—it’s really good with butter and jam for breakfast!

Makes one (9- x 5-inch/23 x 13 cm) loaf
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 45 to 55 minutes Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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