Why my attempt at coconut poundcake came out all wrong and how to fix it
Did you try Annie Overboe's Coconut Poundcake she wrote about last week? I did. Did yours come out not quite right? Mine, too. Several readers have written, emailed and tweeted about problems they faced when baking this and some to ask about ingredient substitutions.
I talked to Annie, who is on hiatus until late in the summer. Don't worry, she'll be back in the fall. She offered some tips and suggestions and hopes you'll give this cake another try.
First off, several readers wanted to know if the 315-degree oven was a typo.
"The 315-degree oven temperature listed is not a typo," Annie says. "I borrowed this low and slow baking technique from European pastry chefs to achieve velvety soft and even-textured crumb. Coconut cream enriches and thickens the batter, while the low oven heat gently raises the poundcake."
Another thing, make sure your oven is the correct temperature using an oven thermometer. I did and was surprised to see my oven was nearly 15 degrees too cold. Yikes. (If you know a good oven fix-it person, please send me a line.)
"Don't assume your oven heats every time to the correct temperature," Annie says. "Invest in an inexpensive oven thermometer. To test your oven before baking, place thermometer in center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Check temperature when oven signals ready and allow to bake for 30 minutes, checking the temperature at 10-minute intervals."
A few readers wrote wanting to know about flour substitutions. All-purpose versus cake flour. I asked Annie about it, and she recommends the use of the cake flour in the recipe. "Cake flour contains less protein than all-purpose blends, and this bakes into a softer textured cake," she said.
As for the coconut cream, I faced a similar situation as one of our readers. I opened the can, and the cream looked like Spackle. Only then did I read the can, and figured out I should have shaken it before I opened it. The cream separates, just like a can of coconut milk does.
About the oil versus butter, Annie says, "I too was skeptical of the potent combination of coconut oil and coconut cream, in a thick pound cake batter. Truth be told, the first bite of this pound cake blew past all of my taste buds' expectations. The finished cake offers an enticing aroma of coconut, without overpowering the senses. Soft, mellow and perfectly balanced, I wanted all of our readers to share in this incredible culinary experience. Keep sharing your baking stories."
One more thing. I talked to Annie about what went wrong with my first attempt. After addressing the oven temperature, she suggested I check my pan size. Sure enough, my loaf pan is shorter and narrower, thus my pan was filled to the brim. My cake rose high and narrow, creating a dome of goo.
"I baked in a heavy-duty Wilton loaf pan, measuring 9.25-inch by 5.25-inch by 2.75-inch deep," Annie said. "It's important to verify loaf pan size before baking, as different sizes look visually the same, but may hold less batter, Do not use a glass or light-duty loaf pan, as neither conducts heat well when baking thick pound cake batter. Pan size alternatives: Fill large cupcake tins, or two small loaf pans half full with pound cake batter and bake until the tester comes out clean."
In both my attempts, I found the flavor to be divine. My first try, I scooped off the goo and poured berries over it. Not pretty, but fabulous flavor. My second attempt was closer to the perfection Annie wrote about. The cake could stand on its own. No fruit required.
So, if you tried this recipe and came up with less than stellar results, I hope these tips help, and you'll try to bake this cake again. It's not too late to perfect this and get it into your celebration repertoire. Mother's Day comes to mind. Enjoy.
Speaking of cooking shows:
Chicago area's own Addie Gundry of Lake Forest is set to compete in Food Network's elite competition series "Food Network Star," premiering at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 4. As one of the competitors, Gundry will showcase her cooking and on-camera skills to prove to Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay she has what it takes to join the Food Network family. Gundry's resume includes stints working for Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Martha Stewart. She is the culinary director for a lifestyle publishing company, in addition to publishing her own food blog, Easy Elegant Entertaining, and cookbooks focusing on easy, elegant and entertaining dishes.
• Contact Food Editor Susan Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 427-4586. Be her friend on Facebook.com/SusanStarkDailyherald or follow her on Twitter @SusanNBR1.