I walked in to a local shop and before I stepped my two feet in to the door, fall hit me. I don’t mean that I fell, although knowing my clumsy nature, that would be so like me. I mean, autumn/fall/halloween/winter/christmas hit me. Everywhere I looked, there were party decorations for all those seasonal holidays.
I was shocked. SHOCKED. I could feel the hives start to rise. I wanted to run out of the store, with my hands cupped over my ears, screaming NO NO NO.
How can this be? Is it really that close? I know, technically, we are only four months away from Christmas, but aren’t we getting a little trigger happy? I can barely think about next week, let alone a couple of months from now. I had just started savoring the summer season. Beaches, sun, long evenings, late mornings. I can already feel my summer falling through my fingertips.
But then I remembered that my favorite season is fall. The leaves, the scarf weather, the apples, the pumpkins. I get excited just thinking about it. In my fevered excitment, I decided to embrace fall’s impending arrival with a beautifully simple cake from Martha Stewart. If you have the July issue of Martha Stewart Living, you must have seen the Pound Cake spread. All those variations and combinations looked divine. I drooled over them while at work, which made my supervisor highly suspicious that something was wrong with me. But I couldn’t help myself.
One version that caught my eye was the Brown Sugar Walnut Pound Cake. I could just taste the dark brown sugar in the moist pound cake, with salty nuts speckled everywhere. I knew this was the best thing to usher in fall and say goodbye to summer. Not that I am done with summer; we’ve still got to live through August! But I figure if the stores are already whipping out fall merchandise (I’m talking to you, J.Crew and Gap) then I should whip out my own fall collection too.
I had high hopes for this cake but it just came out kind of mediocre. My coworkers loved it, but I thought it was dry. With 4 sticks of butter and 2 cups of sugar, I have a hard time believing that this could be dry. But it was, and I felt that some buttermilk or cream would have helped. I roasted the walnuts before, and they added a nice salty crunch. I skipped out on the maple & peach cream sauce Martha originally used and I regret that now. This cake absolutely needs some kind of garnish. Instead, I heated up some real maple syrup and drizzled it on my slice of cake. I think a heavy dollop of whipped cream would have been good also.
I plan on playing around with this cake. Maybe cutting down on the butter, adding applesauce, and tossing in some heavy cream? But then would it be a pound cake? It would probably just be a cake… Oh well. I figure this is my way of saying: hi fall, I’m ready for you. But can you wait for just a couple more weeks? I haven’t had my fill of sangria, shorts, and beaches yet.
Brown Sugar Walnut Pound Cake
Origin: Martha Stewart Living
Yield: Makes 2 cakes or one bundt cake
● 1 pound (3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
● 1 tbsp. coarse salt
● 4 sticks softened unsalted butter, plus more for pans
● 2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
● 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 9 large, room-temperature eggs
● 2 cups toasted, chopped walnuts
● maple syrup for topping, (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Combine flour and 1 tablespoon salt in a bowl.
2. Cream 4 sticks butter and dark-brown sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, for 8 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to medium, and add vanilla extract.
3. Lightly beat eggs, and add to mixer bowl in 4 additions, mixing thoroughly after each and scraping down sides. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until just incorporated. Fold walnuts into finished batter. Divide batter between pans. Tap on counter to distribute; smooth tops.
4. Bake until a tester inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 65 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack. Serve with maple syrup or fresh whipped cream.