Pound Cake with Basil Syrup

Today's dessert was birthed out of an idea my friend Sue had while dining out with Mike and me.  A few weeks ago we all went to the basement bar & restaurant at the Cheshire Inn, called Basso {which means beneath in Italian} .  We noshed on several small plates appetizers: roasted artichoke, seasonal caprese salad, and crispy meatballs.  I believe we all concurred on the rating of 10 out of 10 for the apps.  Next, we all ordered entrees and agreed to share them between the three of us.  Mike ordered "the Donald" pizza which was topped with duck eggs, mushrooms, fontina cheese, and truffles.  Sue ordered the duck agnolotti, and I chose the braised lamb pappardelle.  All the entrees were very good, but I still think the appetizers were even better.  To top things off we splurged with desserts.  I ordered a basil gelato.  The basil gelato was overwhelming, both in the portion size and the strong taste of basil.  I would not order that again unless I could diffuse the brazen basil flavor with some others like a scoop of lemon and a scoop of vanilla, but I'm not even sure if that is a menu option. 

So, this brings us to the idea Sue had.   She mentioned that the melted basil gelato would be a great topping on pound cake with a little dollop of ricotta or whipped cream.  I agreed, so now I had to give it a try.

I found this pound cake recipe online by Jacques Pepin.  To be candid, I was a little disappointed in the final texture of this cake.  It is really buttery, and left an oily residue on my fingers after holding the loaf to slice it.  Next time I make it I will omit about 25-50% of the recommended butter in the recipe.  But, to offset the extreme butteriness in this loaf I grilled the slices before serving.  Once grilled, the pound cake marries the tastes of sugar cookies and french toast.  The freshness and savoriness of the basil syrup was a great accompaniment to balance the sweet rich pound cake.  

Although this recipe didn't turn out as perfectly as I had hope {too buttery pound cake and the basil flavor not bold enough}, it still was a yummy treat for breakfast.  Here's to trials and errors while cooking and gladness!

CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe.

Ingredient for Pound Cake with Basil Syrup

  • 2.5 sticks of unsalted butter, softened (I would reduce this to 1.5 to 2 sticks)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of granular sugar (240 g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk, room temperature
  • 2.5 cups cake flour (300 g)
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 cup granular sugar
  • 1/8  to 1/4 cup warm water

Directions for Pound Cake with Basil Syrup

  1. Preheat oven = 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper that extends 2 inches past the short ends of the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter with sugar (1.25 cups), vanilla, and salt at a medium speed until fluffy (about 3 minutes).  
  3. Add eggs, 2 at a time to the mixture, beating with electric mixer between the additions of eggs.  Add in the milk, beat in.  Slowly sift the flour over the batter.  Using a whisk, combine until smooth.  Transfer batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula.
  4. Bake the pound cake for 60-90 minutes until it is golden brown on the top and cracked down the center.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf, should be clean when removed.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold.  Place on the wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Basil Syrup: Blanch fresh basil into boiling water for 30 seconds.  Transfer to ice bath.  Pat basil dry.  Combine 1/8 cup of hot water and 1/8 cup of sugar, stir until sugar dissolves.  Place basil, pinch of salt, and cooled sugar water into a food prep.  Pulse until combined.  Strain through a cheesecloth and fine mesh strainer.  If the syrup is too runny, place into a small saucepan over low heat and reduce liquid until thickened.