Both my mother and home economic classes I took in high school taught us to cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Next, we added the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder). It was actually after I learned how to make the perfect pie dough, switching out some of the water with Vodka, that I realized how bad "liquid" was in producing gluten; the culprit in not only tough baked goods, but what was causing that condensed crumb line at the bottom of my cakes.
So, I turned to science--my best friend! The gluten was forming because when the flour came in to contact with liquid (in this case the egg whites) I would create a great rise, but the air bubbles created by fat would cause the crumb to compress. More research and I discovered a lot of bakers use what's called "Reverse Creaming." I remember making cupcakes in culinary school using this method, but somehow I seemed to revert back to my old ways. What is this method, you ask? Well, you beat together sifted flour, sugar and butter together until it's smooth. The fat in the butter coats the flour molecules so when the liquid is added, it creates a barrier which slows the formation of gluten. Easy! Let's get started...
Lemon Honey Pound Cake
1 3/4 cup (225g) Cake Flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup (112g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (170g) Meyer Lemon Honey
Zest from 1 lemon
1 cup + 2T (2 sticks +2T) (255g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs + 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees. Grease and flour a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, honey and vanilla extract and whisk together. Add the zest of one lemon.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the granulated sugar and mix with the paddle attachment slightly. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and while the mixer is running on low, add all the butter. Once all the butter is incorporated, turn your mixer up to high and beat 2-3 minutes.
All this cake needs is a dusting of confectioners' sugar, but if you like, add fresh strawberries or your favorite fruit. And, guess what, the crumb of the cake is uniform and no compression! Enjoy!