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Classic Pound Cake with Strata Variations

RG

Made with only five ingredients, this old-fashioned cake is wonderful as a tea or coffee cake or as the foundation for any number of assembled desserts. If the butter and sugar mixture appears to curdle as the eggs are added, don't be concerned. The batter will become smooth as the flour is added.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups flour

Strawberry Strata

  • 1/2 cup kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • 1 quart strawberry ice cream, softened
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

Raspberry Puree

  • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed
  • Superfine sugar, to taste
  • Lemon juice or framboise (strawberry liqueur), to taste

Instructions

  1. Cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 5-cup loaf pan.
  2. In medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add vanilla extract, then fold in flour, mixing well.
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  6. Place loaf pan on baking sheet; bake until top of cake is light brown and firm to the touch (50 to 60 minutes); a skewer inserted into center should come out clean.
  7. Set cake pan on a wire rack; cool to room temperature before removing cake from pan.
  8. Strawberry Strata: Slice pound cake into 1/2-inch thick pieces; slice each piece diagonally to make 2 triangles. Moisten the triangles by brushing both sides with kirsch.
  9. In a 3-quart clear glass freezer-proof dish, arrange a layer of moistened cake slices.
  10. Top with enough ice cream to cover cake completely, smoothing ice cream to edges of dish.
  11. Scatter some of the berries over ice cream, especially at edges.
  12. Continue layering cake, ice cream and berries, ending with a layer of ice cream topped with a few berries. (You should have 9 layers in all.)
  13. Cover dish with foil over-wrapped with plastic film; freeze until firm.
  14. If desired, garnish strata with whipped cream and toasted almonds. Serve with Raspberry Puree, if desired.
  15. Raspberry Puree: Strain berries and their syrup through a sieve to remove seeds, pushing through as much of the pulp as possible. Add sugar and lemon juice to taste.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings; about 1 cup Raspberry Puree

Peach Strata: Use peach ice cream in place of strawberry, amaretto (almond liqueur) in place of kirsch, and chopped peeled ripe peaches in place of strawberries. Omit Raspberry Puree.

Banana Strata: Use banana or vanilla ice cream in place of strawberry ice cream, dark rum in place of kirsch, and 1 thinly sliced large banana and 1/3 cup each of rum-soaked raisins and coarsely chopped walnuts in place of strawberries. Omit Raspberry Puree.

Apricot Strata: Use vanilla ice cream in place of strawberry, apricot brandy in place of kirsch, and coarsely chopped peeled fresh apricots in place of strawberries. Omit Raspberry Puree.

Pineapple Strata: Use vanilla ice cream in place of strawberry, cognac in place of kirsch, and fresh pineapple chunks or crushed pineapple in place of strawberries. Omit Raspberry Puree.

Mocha Strata: Use coffee ice cream in place of strawberry, coffee-flavored liqueur in place of kirsch, and 1 cup of crushed toffee candy in place of strawberries. Omit Raspberry Puree.

Chocolate Strata: Use chocolate ice cream in place of strawberry, orange-flavored liqueur in place of kirsch, and raspberries in place of strawberries. Serve with Raspberry Puree or chocolate syrup.


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