Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Stupid question, I know. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a millionare?

However, since that’s not likely to happen for most of us (especially given our current economy), then let me offer an alternative:

Million Dollar Pound Cake.

I can’t lay claim to this recipe. It’s been around for more years than I can count, which means it is pretty damn old (crap, why do I know these things ? Sometimes I hate being a Baby Boomer). I remember clipping it out of a newspaper a million (no pun intended) years ago and thinking it would never work because it didn’t have leavening like baking soda or baking powder.

What the hell did I know back then, anyway?

(As an aside, I believe the name has its genesis in the idea that it is a one-in-a-million kind of cake. Not sure I would venture that far, but I will allow that it is pretty damn good).

But let me digress. How was your holiday? I did not leave any of those Toffee Crunch Cookies out for Santa (I ate them all myself), but we did entertain a few widows and orphans on Christmas Eve. Since my kosher-keeping kid and his younger brother were not in attendance, we dined on lobster mac and cheese and too many bottles of well-chosen wine. Oh, and that Million Dollar Pound Cake too, gussied up a bit for the occasion with fresh cranberries and a warm brown sugar sauce. Trust me, it was a delicious way to celebrate!

Christmas Eve table, complete with mini Christmas tree and menorah.
Equal time!


For the cake:
1 pound unsalted butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I used kosher)
6 eggs at room temperature (I used extra-large
3 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, divided
¾ cup whole milk or half-and-half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 300-degrees. Grease and flour a 10-cup tube or bundt pan.

In an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl frequently. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Add eggs one by one, beating on medium speed until each one is well-incorporated. Reduce mixer speed to low and add 3 cups of the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk or half-and-half. Mix only until just blended then finish batter by hand, using a rubber spatula. Fold in the vanilla and almond extracts.

Place the cranberries in a small bowl and toss with the remaining ½ cup flour. Gently fold into the cake batter. Turn batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 ¼ hours or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from the oven to a rack and let cool for one hour. Shake to loosen or run a knife around edges and turn out onto a cake plate or serving platter. Serve with warm brown sugar sauce on the side.

For the warm brown sugar sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt (I used kosher)
1 cup heavy cream

Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until butter melts and mixture is smooth and sugars are dissolved.

Serves 12 - 16

*  Didn't remember to leave out your butter to soften?  If you have a metal bowl for your mixer and a blowtorch, you are in luck.  Put the butter in the bowl and warm up the bowl with your blowtorch.  This is a nifty trick I learned when I was baking at Star Provisions.

*  Don't have room temperature eggs?  Just place them in a bowl of hot water and let sit for 5 minutes.  Next?

*  This cake is great when just made, but it's even better several days afterwards (something about the massive amount of butter in it, I suppose).  If you want the raw truth, I kept it on a cake plate covered with plastic wrap and it was equally good a week later.  Can't believe I didn't consume it all before then.

* Same with the brown sugar sauce.  Make it ahead and reheat when you are ready to use.  If you refrigerate it, just put it back in a saucepan and smooth it out again over medium heat.

*  I like to serve this by cutting the cake into slices, then passing around a pitcher of the warm brown sugar sauce.  Comfort food!

*  Don't forget to enjoy this for breakfast (sans the brown sugar sauce).  Toast up a slice or two, slather with butter and start your day off right.  Who needs Fiber One, anyway?

What I have given you is a basic fabulous recipe that you can adapt in a million (gotta get that word in there again) different ways.  Think of it as a blank canvas.  Omit the cranberries and bake it up "naked."  Fold in some fresh blueberries, add lemon zest and lemon extract and glaze with a thin mixture of powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Fold in some chocolate chips and drizzle the thing with a chocolate glaze and maybe some roasted, salted almonds.  I'm just winging this, throwing ideas out of my head at you, but you get the idea.

Happy January!  I have a lot of nerve posting a dessert recipe, I know.  What the heck.   Make this cake anyway and take it to your friends at the gym!

Saber wants to know why I am giving this cake away, instead of giving it to him. 
Check out that face!  Jewish guilt, Saber?


  1. My heart aches that I was not there for Christmas Eve! The table looks lovely, as always. Hope to see you soon.


  2. i'm 9 and my mom said she has a 200 dollar budget 4 xmas gifts per person. I'm trying 2 find a cheap xmas tree because i asked 4 50$ to use for a xmas tree for the poor but i want 2 get them presents 2.