Another week … another
baking crew challenge.
The theme: loaves.
I tend to think of a loaf as a *somewhat* healthy baked treat … chalk full of mashed bananas, grated zucchini, or even pumpkin purée, with an above average sprinkling of chocolate chips … a little sweetness in the belly.
Oh how I heart a good slice of *fresh out of the oven*, warm, gooey banana/zucchini/pumpkin loaf.
That’s why I was so excited about this challenge. Not only would I bake one of my favourite things … but I would also get to try a new recipe.
A neapolitan pound cake recipe to be exact.
First off. I’m going to be honest. I decided to bake this because it looked good. And if something can look that good … it’s got to stand a chance of TASTING good right?
Well … it lived up to my pre-judgement.
This is no loaf. Nope. Don’t confuse this for a slightly savoury loaf: something warm and comforting to accompany your tea or coffee. It’s not the kind of thing you bake as your afternoon snack … or as a *quick,easy, and healthy* breakfast option.
This is a committment. You must commit yourself to this intensely decadent and absolutely delightful dessert.
It’s based on neapolitan ice cream right … so vanilla, chocolate and strawberry all swirled together to create a party in your mouth.
It’s true. All those flavours are good things.
I decided to change it up a little. Rather than stick to the traditional strawberry flavour, I opted for a strawberry-rhubarb flavour. I actually couldn’t decide on cherry or raspberry … but then I spotted the strawberry-rhubarb jam on the shelf, I couldn’t resist adding a splash of tart rhubarb to the mix. Could you?
I didn’t think so.
The richness in this cake comes from the 5 ounces of mascarpone cheese … added to another 2 ounces of cream cheese … plus 1 cup of butter … and 6 eggs.
Mother of pearl. You just know that this is going to be one rich and delicious slice of cake!
So while I was busy whipping mini loaf and bundt cake versions of this recipe … my friends were busy baking their own loaves. Tom & Aimée baked a beautiful cardamom loaf, Meredith brought a tangy lemon blueberry loaf, and Cory baked a family favourite, walnut sour cream loaf.
I’m going to say … each and every one of the loaves were delicious … but so completely different.
The cardamom loaf was beautiful … an exquisite crumb and shape … and then when you bit into it, the pungent flavour of the cardamom perefectly accompanied a cup of coffee. It was a spicy addition to the challenge.
The walnut sour cream loaf is one of Cory’s favourite family holiday treats. Who can fault a loaf that’s chalk full of walnuts and then topped with a brown sugar crumble? Although Cory’s recipe was a tad oily (even after Cory adjusted his mother’s original recipe – and he agreed with us) … I still gladly took a mini loaf home with me … and very happily devoured it.
We all know that I heart lemons … so it probably won’t come as a surprise that I’m going to annouce that Meredith’s lemon blueberry loaf was my favourite. I loved how light it was. I loved the fresh blueberries. I loved the tang of the lemons. It’s the perfect afternoon tea snack. You don’t actually need to drink tea … you can just grab a slice of this loaf and savour it … that’s what I did.
Compared to the cardamom loaf, walnut sour cream loaf, and lemon blueberry loaf, my neapolitan pound loaf really stuck out as a cake. It was denser and sweeter and richer and more of a dessert. I’m not saying it wasn’t good … but it certainly shouldn’t quality as a loaf. Needless to say … if you’re looking to make something that will wow your friends, family, neighbours, co-workers … maybe you want to give this recipe a try. It certainly put a smile on many a face and satisfied many a craving for a treat in the middle of the day.
3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
5 oz, mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
3 c. cake flour
pinch of salt
6 tbsp strawberry-rhubarb jam
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp pink food colouring (I use Wilton’s colour gels … less is more – I went a little overboard!)
Number one rule … don’t preheat your oven.
Time to get started.
In a medium bowl sift together the granulated and powdered sugars. Set aside.
Cream together the mascapone, cream cheese and butter together in your stand-mixer: medium-high speed using your paddle attachment for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for a further 30 seconds.
This batter isn’t a simple “add dry ingredients to wet ingredients” batter … there are steps to follow. But they are TOTALLY worth it.
Ok .. here goes.
- Add two of the eggs to the cheese / butter mixture.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add 1 cup of the sugar mixture.
- Beat at medium speed until combined.
- Add 1 cup flour plus the pinch of salt.
- Beat until combined.
- Repeat until all of the eggs, sugars, and flour are used.
Divide the batter equally between three bowls.
In one bowl combine the batter with the strawberry-rhubarb jam. Add the food colouring gel.
In another bowl combine the batter with the cocoa powder.
And the vanilla to the remaining batter. Stir to combine.
Time to bake.
You have some options here. You can bake a regular sized loaf… or a regular bundt cake. You can go the mini loaf / mini bundt option. I decided that since I wanted to bake these quickly, the mini loaf and mini bundt cakes were the way to go. Whichever option you pick, spray the pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
I scooped a spoonful of each flavour of batter into each mini loaf tin and bundt cake (I dozen of each). Then I took a toothpick and swirled the different flavours into one another.
Place the loaf / bundt cake tin in oven.
Turn oven on to 300F.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for the mini loaves / mini bundts. Obviously longer for a regular sized loaf or bundt cake. The original recipe recommended 2 hours … I would probably check it out after 75 minutes.
Serve with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce.
Go big or go home right?