Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vietnamese Sadwiches and Overflowing Ovens - Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

First off were the Vietnamese Sandwiches from the hole in the wall shop in Albany, courtesy of Amber. Next came the papaya salad, egg rolls and finally, Lillet, my summer drink of choice. This was all prelude to an extremely economical $12 bottle of champagne split three ways, the newest drink special at my local bar, The Graduate. A cheap and celebratory way to toast a random weekday evening and my impending road trip to Ashland, Oregon.

I love a good road trip. More often than not, my college weekends were spent driving away from and back to Ashland for some reason or another. I know the San Francisco to Ashland stretch of I5 like the back of my hand, and I am especially looking forward to a well-deserved Superbird Sandwich at Granzella's Italian Deli in Williams, CA. Granzella's is the traditional halfway point, and the sandwiches are more than worth stopping for. Not to mention the stuffed polar bear/king corbra combo in the bar. I happen to be a sucker for oddity filled pit-stops.

But before I fall asleep tonight (dreaming of Superbirds and king cobras no doubt) I'll take just one more bite of the leftover Vanilla Bean Pound Cake sitting on my counter. A happy and ambitious leftover from the Carmel Pear Trifle this weekend.

I will admit that I had a bit of trouble with this recipe. It helps to read it more carefully than I did, and not try to fit everything into one loaf pan. Otherwise, you will end up, as I did, with an overflowing cake all over your friend's oven. Still delicious, however!

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake
Adapted from Martha Pearl Villas, New York Times Magazine, 3/16/04

1 pound (2 cups) sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, used is fine
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 pound (9 large) eggs
1 pound (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, grind vanilla bean and sugar until vanilla is as finely chopped as it can get, about one minute. Sift this mixture twice, making sure all larger pieces have been filtered out. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer, then gradually add the vanilla sugar, continuing to beat until well creamed and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and salt, beating constantly. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until well blended.

3. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Pour in the batter and ‘’spank” the bottom of the pan to distribute the batter evenly. Bake until a straw inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes, taking care not to overcook. Turn cake out onto a rack and let cool.


  1. I love Smitten Kitchen - beautiful cake! Just came over from Kim's Kitchen Sink, which I've been reading for forever... nice site. Love your header!

  2. Thanks Shannalee! Glad you like it, I'm a huge SK fan & a fan of Kim's of course!