Let me tell you how I ended up making this.
I was listening to Talking Heads on Pandora. Which made me think of David Byrne, the lead singer. Which made me think of Annie Leibovitz, the photographer, because she did a photo spread for the magazine Vanity Fair on David Byrne. In the spread, he’s wearing a suit coated completely with fresh leaves. And Annie Leibovitz with David Byrne and leaves reminded me of David Lebovitz, a pastry chef who has a masterpiece with leaves: Bay Leaf Pound Cake. And it just so happened that Ben bought some a few weeks ago for a dish he was making, and so we still had some in the cupboard!!
Bay Leaf Pound Cake. You simply steep bay leaves in hot melted butter that you then will use in the cake batter, plus line the bottom of pan with more bay leaves to impart even more bay leaf flavor into the cake!! Simple yet elegant.
This is a simple yet impressive recipe and the bay leaves really add more than just the scent and appearance. To me, the cake almost seems to have a texture similar to cornbread, or something with cornmeal in it, which I really like. And the flavor is front and center, but not too overpowering.
I didn’t bother with the glaze or even a dusting of sugar. Check original recipe in link if you want the recipe for the glaze; I just really wanted to try it out and taste what something sweet tastes like with bay leaf as the main flavor. And it tastes wonderful!! That is all. Enjoy!!
Bay Leaf Pound Cake (from David Lebovitz, featured in the Washington Post here.)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus a little more for greasing pan
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, for topping cake before baking
10 Bay Laurel Leaves
1 and 23 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one orange
In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium-low heat until just melted, then remove from heat and add 3 bay leaves. Let the bay leaves steep in the butter for 1 hour. Before using, you can heat it up if needed just to get it to pour easily.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, or one with similar volume, by greasing with a little butter, and dusting with flour, then lining with parchment paper so that it hangs out from the two long sides, so that you can easily remove it from the pan. Set aside.
Dab a little butter on the rest of the leaves and arrange at the bottom of the lined pan to get them to stick to the parchment paper.
In a bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk to incorporate well. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and zest. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir to combine with a rubber spatula until smooth. Discard the bay leaves from the saucepan with the butter in it, and heat up the butter if needed, just to pourable consistency, if needed. Add the butter to the batter slowly while gradually stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate, until smooth.
Pour the batter carefully so as not to move the leaves at the bottom. Cut the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter into small cubes and line down the length of the cake in the middle. Using the back of a small spoon, press the butter cubes down slightly, creating a shallow trench.
Place in the oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
After resting in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, loosen the sides with a thin blade of a knife and lift cake up with the parchment paper on both sides and carefully place on wire rack to cool significantly before serving. Feel free to use the recipe for the glaze, or give it a light dusting of confectioners sugar, if desired. I really liked it just plain, though. I’ve always like bay leaves in recipes, but could never clearly taste just bay leaves, so having this cake without the glaze really puts that flavor front and center, and it is glorious! Also makes a great present because it keeps well and is easy to transport.