I’m not trying to offend anybody, but Martha Stewart is a lying liar.
I spent YEARS believing this woman from the east coast, with her accent and her blonde hair and her perfect lighting, held all the secrets to baking and entertaining. I know. She is the guru. She knows her stuff. She built an empire and went to a women’s minimum security prison all based on this expertise.
Well. She failed me.
After looking through my blog posts recently, I realized I’d been hitting the complicated stuff pretty hard. I wanted to bring something to the table that was a little simpler, so I decided I’d make a pound cake. I clicked around on Pinterest for a bit and found her recipe. The pictures were beautiful, and it’s Martha. I mean, it was really just mixing the right amount of stuff together and baking it. Usually when I find a Pinterest recipe, I look it over and figure out what makes sense and what doesn’t. If something about it doesn’t seem right, I dig into my own knowledge and Frankenstein something together. I didn’t think I had to do that with Martha’s recipe. Martha’s had to be the best, right?
Wrong. This is the tale of how I failed at pound cake, learned not to blindly trust what I read on the internet and lived to tell about it. Let’s roll. We start with the vanilla cake.
All cakes are basically made from butter, eggs, sugar, salt and flour. A pound cake just uses lots of these things. Back in the day, it was literally a pound of each ingredient. Yeah. Not doing that. Anyway, according to Martha, we use 9 eggs in this recipe. Because my plan was to make a marble pound cake, and we use 9 eggs in each flavor, I used 18 eggs for this one bake. I know. Blindly following.
Whisk the salt into the flour and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar. It is probably best to start on low and increase the speed as the butter breaks down. Finish on medium high to get that fluffy texture we love on so much. Add the vanilla and mix that in. Now, we get to the eggs.
It is obviously all the eggs ever. The recipe said to lightly beat them, so I used a whisk and just stabbed each yolk to break it up. I didn’t do much beyond that. Once they are lightly beaten, go ahead and add them to the butter mixture in “4 additions” mixing thoroughly each time. Math I don’t often get along. I’m sure one of the reasons my pound cake failed was because I messed up and added too much egg in one of my additions. But who can say.
It’s suuuuuper liquidy. Cause nine eggs. Now we add the flour, also in 4 additions. For this step, you have to make sure to mix everything really well. You’ll probably have to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple times, and it’s best to start on low and then slowly work the mixer up to medium speed to combine all the ingredients.
Boom. Vanilla cake batter.
This is a marble pound cake though, so now we have to make the chocolate batter.
Combine the flour, salt and cocoa powder and set aside.
Follow the rest of the steps you took to make the vanilla batter. Cream the sugar and butter together then add the vanilla. Lightly beat the eggs, then mix them in four additions. Add the flour in 4 additions and then bam:
Prep your loaf pans for baking by coating lightly with unsalted butter and dusting with flour.
Now, layer the batters in by pouring a half cup of each in whatever way you like. Just make sure there is a little of vanilla and chocolate in each layer. I did 3 layers and had tons of batter left over, which should have been another red flag for me that things were rotten in the state of Denmark, however, I just kept plugging away.
Batter balls!!! Balls of batter!!! Ok, now use a knife and swirl the batter together so it makes a pattern all through the loaf pan.
Oh my god! That’s so pretty! I can’t wait to cut into it and see all the swirls!
That never happened.
So at this point, we are supposed to bake these at 325° for 65 minutes. Which I did. When I checked on it, I found that it was NOT baked. So I left it for another half an hour. It smelled great. When I took it out again, the top was brown and looked amazing, so I stuck a toothpick in the center to see that it was done….
and the toothpick came out completely covered in batter. It was absolutely raw on the inside.
So…I said screw it. I knew that it wasn’t going to work today. There was nothing to be done. For this to bake and be safe to eat, I’d probably end up burning the top, even if I covered it in foil. I let it go. Sometimes, it’s not your day to take on Martha Stewart.
But Jessica! What about the feature image?? And what about all that extra batter you said you had??
I’m glad you asked!
I decided to just try and see, for the hell of it, if this batter would bake at all. Maybe it wasn’t the batter. Maybe it was the amount of batter in the loaf pans. I scooped it out into my muffin tin to see if I could make mini pound cakes. If they didn’t work, I was just going to call it a loss and pour myself a holiday pour of wine to mourn my time and effort.
If they did work, I was going to celebrate with a holiday pour of wine!
I mean, mini pound cakes!
It worked. I baked them at 350° for 20 minutes and they were perfect. I mixed up a super quick glaze of powdered sugar and a little milk and drizzled those on top. I might have had them for breakfast the next day.
This was such a good lesson for me. I feel like in this time of Pinterest, professional bloggers and foodies galore on the internet, a hobby baker can get frustrated thinking that everything they make has to be bakery perfect.
It won’t be.
That is what makes it special! The imperfections and the stories of crazy shit that happens in your kitchen are what make you a spectacular human being. I learned so many things with this one afternoon of baking. I learned to take things in stride. I learned that when life gives you raw cake batter, you have to try and make mini pound cakes.
And I learned Martha Stewart is a liar.
Nosh on, friends.
A note for lovely readers who read all the way to the end: Because there is no freaking way I could actually guide anyone to these mini pound cakes without failing at the full pound cake, this post is sans recipe. Please continue to follow and read for future posts that are not failures.