Pound cake was my go-to dessert for holidays and Friday night dinners prior to the pandemic. A couple factors converged to change that though—the first was a switch from cooking regularly for many people to only two, and the second is our local JCC starting to offer a mini-cinnamon babka that replaced the homemade pound cake as our dessert of choice. So when a hankering for long absent pound cake hit, I felt an immediate need to act upon it, and the timing coincided with a Meatwave which led me to take the pound cake to the grill, served in skewered form with pineapple chunks and the finishing touches of dulce de leche and whipped cream.
The first pound cake recipe I ever tried is still my favorite to this day. It was published by Cook’s Illustrated ages ago, and I kind of assume newer recipes of theirs would be better, but I still prefer this one over any other I’ve tried out. I also find this recipe particularly simple to put together because it utilizes the food processor to combine the sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
Following that, the flour mixture is added in three batches, with the batter being whisked between each addition.
Finally, the cake is baked at 350°F for fifteen minutes to start, then at 325°F until it’s done, which take about 35 additional minutes. After removing the cake from the pan, I usually brush on a glaze at this point, but since I was going to be grilling it this time around, I didn’t want to introduce the extra sugar that would burn and/or make the skewers overly sticky and messy for my guests.
The pineapple got introduced into the skewers because these were going to be served at a tiki-themed cookout, so the fruity addition would help the final dish fit into the menu overall. I knew I was going to cut up the cake into roughly one-inch cubes, so I made the pineapple chunks about the same size to match up.
At first, I wasn’t going to add anything else into this dessert, but then I worried that pineapple and cake on skewers is not much of a recipe, so I began to think of ways to dress them up some more. I thought the introduction of dulce de leche would fit well and, to make my life easy, I was just going to buy a can of this caramelized condensed milk, but alas, the grocery did not have it in stock that fateful day. So I picked up a couple cans of condensed milk and transformed them into dulce de leche by placing the whole cans, with the wrappers removed, in a water filled pressure cooker and letting them go at high pressure for around 35 minutes. After depressurizing and allowing the cans cool, I was greeted with beautifully browned dulce de leche.
Once this recipe started to be more than I originally planned, I felt the urge to just keep adding on and also made a batch of whipped cream to serve as the final icing on the cake, somewhat literally. Like the dulce de leche, this wasn’t much extra effort, I just put some heavy cream and sugar in the KitchenAid, turned it on, and then stopped it once the cream reached stiff peaks. I made the whipped cream in advance and stored it in the fridge until it was time to serve.
The grilling of the skewers didn’t quite go to plan. I was imagining well browned pineapple and cake with spotty charring, but over a hot, direct fire, the cake started to blacken before the pineapple browned to the extent I was envisioning. Still, the pineapple picked up some grill marks here and there and also warmed well to better match the temperature of cake.
To serve, I piled the skewers on a platter and drizzled on the dulce de leche that I had to heat in the microwave shortly to make it less viscous. I then placed a large dollop of whipped cream on top and let my guests have at it. For me, getting the pound cake back in my life was the highlight of the dish, and grill gave it a uniqueness that I enjoyed. The pineapple certainly gave the skewers that tropical tilt I was after, and compounding sweet on top of sweet with the dulce de leche and whipped cream was a good idea because they both introduced new dimensions that made this taste like a more of a fully realized dessert than if they would have been omitted. The only thing I wished I had done different was to leave myself a non-grilled slice of cake so I could enjoy it in my usual manner—it had been so long since I had this pound cake that I was left longing for that basic taste of comfort, but I guess that just means I need to bake another cake soon!
Yield 6-8 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Cook 55 Minutes
- Total 1 Hour 25 Minutes
- For the Pound Cake
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon, softened for greasing pan
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cake flour, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (8 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated or powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the Skewers
- 1 medium pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup dulce de leche, warmed
- To make the pound cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon softened butter and lightly dust with cake flour. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- Place sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the workbowl of a food processor and process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, slowly pour melted butter through feed tube in a steady stream. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Sift 1/3 of flour mixture over egg mixture and whisk until combined. Repeat 2 more times with remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.
- To make the whipped cream: Place bowl and whisk of an electric mixture in freezer for 20 minutes. Remove whisk and bowl from freezer and add in cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat mixture on high speed until doubled in volume and stiff peaks form, about 30 seconds. If not using immediately, transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
- To make the skewers: Cut pound cake into 1-inch cubes. Alternatively thread pound cake and pineapple onto skewers. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals evenly across charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean grilling grate. Place skewers on grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until cake and pineapple are lightly browned, 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer skewers to a serving platter, drizzle on dulce de leche, and top with whipped cream. Serve immediately with additional whipped cream on the side.
Pound cake recipe by Cook’s Illustrated