Vallery Lomas is a lawyer turned baker who, after years of juggling both worlds, jumped full-time into recipe development. It’s a passion that’s both natural — she made her Aunt Hester’s dinner rolls recipe often as a child — and practiced. At one point in law school, she was baking a new recipe every single day. Following her 2017 win on The Great American Baking Show, she quit her job as an attorney to work on her first cookbook, Life Is What You Bake It, which came out last month. We talked to Lomas about how one of her favorite baking tools — a Nordic Ware decorative Bundt pan — made a simple pound cake cover worthy. (Yes, it’s on the cover of her book.)
Life Is What You Bake It is full of treats that make you drool — dark-chocolate brownies sprinkled with flaky salt, stacks of pancakes dripping with maple syrup, pies bubbling with fruit juice. But it’s the unassuming pound cake that, um, really takes the cake.
And it’s her tried-and-true Nordic Ware decorative Bundt pan that ensures the outside looks just as good as the inside tastes. Nordic Ware’s Bundt pans are superior quality and made from aluminum, which heats through super evenly. The last thing you want in a pound cake is an overcooked, too-dark crust with an undercooked, wet inside. The darker the pan, the faster the outside will brown and the drier the cake will be. “When I go to people’s houses and see super-dark pans, I tell them to throw them out!” says Lomas. Her Nordic Ware pan is silver, which helps ensure a golden-brown color and perfect texture. And finally, the nonstick coating helps make release easy. “These Nordic Ware pans are so well constructed and reliable,” she says. “I’ve used inferior ones before and cakes simply don’t turn out.”
Then there’s the look. Nordic Ware actually makes Bundt pans with many different designs — graphic, like the one in the book, simple and elegant, braided, star-shaped, whatever you’d call this one, and many more. “You don’t have to fuss around with frosting anything or layering anything or decorating anything,” Lomas says. No matter which pan you go with, the pound cake becomes the “centerpiece of the table.”
First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and spray your Bundt pan with baking spray. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat three sticks of room-temperature unsalted butter and eight ounces of cream cheese together at a medium-low speed until they’re smooth, creamy, and well combined. “The cream cheese lends acidity,” says Lomas, “which is what gives the cake a really tender crumb.” From there, add in two teaspoons of vanilla extract, one-quarter teaspoon of kosher salt, and three cups of granulated sugar and increase the speed of the mixer to medium. Let it go for four to five minutes until the batter is paler and fluffy. Add in six eggs — but only two at a time, incorporating the sets fully after each addition. Turn the mixer off and add three cups of flour (if you do this with the mixture on, expect a lot of flour in your face and on the counter). Mix on a low speed until you don’t see any flour left (you can also mix with a rubber spatula a bit once you take the bowl out of the mixer to ensure it’s all incorporated). Finally, scrape the batter into your prepared Bundt pan, smooth the top, and bake for an hour and 20 minutes. Once it’s done, let it cool on a wire rack for ten minutes. Use a small offset spatula to loosen the sides and invert the cake onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Lomas ices her with a vanilla glaze (the recipe for which is in the book), but we know it’d also be great as is.
Recipe from Life Is What You Bake It. Copyright © 2021 by Vallery Lomas. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
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