September 29, 2013 – Baking is different from cooking.
There are similarities. Baking and cooking are usually both done in a kitchen. Or on a grill. Or even on a camp fire. At least some sort of heat source.
Both involve creating heat-induced chemical changes in raw ingredients. If you’re good at it, or at least lucky, the chemical changes result in really wonderful taste treats.
Still baking and cooking are different. When you’re cooking, let’s say, shorts ribs (my wife’s absolute favorite meal), the “little of this, little of that” rule applies quite well. Toss in a little oregano. Maybe a couple of bay leaves. A bit of caraway seed. Whatever sounds good at the moment. Precision in measurement isn’t an absolute necessity. It’s more art than science.
And that’s how baking is different. If the recipe calls for one cup of something it’s pretty important that you use one cup. Baking is a more delicate process. It’s precise.
That probably explains why my wife doesn’t like baking and I do. She’s more of a free spirit than am I. She tosses handfuls of spices into dishes based on how her senses of taste and smell move her. And her instincts are always spot on.
I’m more compulsive. More linear. Sure, I can do the “little of this” thing, too. But I’m never quite sure how it’ll turn out. I’m much more comfortable with baking where a cup means a cup and a tablespoon means a tablespoon.
Oh, there’s one more thing I should tell you about myself. I’m a chocoholic. But then who in their right mind isn’t? My wife loves chocolate, too.
I’m also fond of pound cake. The simplest of cakes. Butter, eggs, sugar, flour and milk. A little baking powder. That’s pretty much it. Still warm from the oven, it’s comfort food at its best. What could be better?
A chocolate pound cake. That’s what could be better. And that’s what I made one recent Sunday afternoon.
Chocolate Pound Cake
1 ½ cups butter ½ teaspoon baking powder
3 cups sugar ¼ teaspoon salt
5 eggs 1 ¼ cup milk
3 cups flour 2 tablespoons grated chocolate
½ cup cocoa 1 teaspoon vanilla
Take the butter and eggs from the refrigerator a couple of hours before you start cooking to let them come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325.
Prepare a cake pan by rubbing it thoroughly with a stick of butter. Use your fingers to assure that the entire surface is buttered. Toss a couple of tablespoons of flour into the pan and turn it to coat the entire surface. You can use any kind of cake pan. I tend to prefer a spring-form pan simply because they make it so easy to turn the cake out when it’s done.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly each time you add an egg.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt all together. Add the dry ingredients perhaps a quarter at a time to the egg mixture alternating with the milk. Mix well after each addition so that it’s well blended.
Add the grated chocolate and vanilla.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake at 325 for 1 ½ hours.
Turn the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack to let it cool. This is important. If you leave it in the hot pan it will continue to cook and become too dry.
You can serve it with a little whipped cream and shaved chocolate.