So, yes; the winter has gotten to me a little bit. Everything is a little muted after the holidays are over, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it can be really nice. But dreary, cold days can make you do strange things. like dig our your food paste colors and color your perfectly lovely cream cheese bundt cake several shades of early spring.
I should tell you I’m not a “food coloring” person, mostly. I think things are at their most beautiful when they’re in their natural state and not glowing in the dark with Red Dye #5. My only weakness for food coloring is this right here; glowing white cake. I sometimes can’t keep myself from doing it. it begs to be messed with.
Pound cakes work the best, especially for layering colors, because the batter is thick and rich and tends to stay in defined sections even when swirled together. Now, this is not to say I have anything against white cakes left alone to be white cakes. In fact, I love a pure-as-snow white cake. And this one is a second run; I made this exact recipe a few days before, left it white, and it was gorgeous.
I had no reasoning behind the colors I chose except that I was feeling like citrus that day. Also, I was organizing some of my old vintage Pyrex bakeware I have scuttled away all over the house (it’s an obsession) and was feeling, well, retro. To me, the colors look like they belong in a sixties tea dress at a garden party. Or on an old vintage pillowcase.
Colors aside, make this cake because it’s amazingly good. it’s one of those fabulous all-season cakes that’s perfect with any weather and any topping. Sans dye job, I’d suggest fresh berries tumbled over it. Lacking fresh (and aren’t we all, sometimes, in the dead of winter), get frozen berries and make yourself a berry sauce. It’ll be luxuriously dark and jewel-toned next to the stark whiteness of the cake. In the summer, grab a citrus sherbet of your choosing to pair with it. It’s the little black (white?) dress of cakes.
I’ll say mine looks especially fancy thanks to my new Heritage Bundt Pan from Williams Sonoma I received for christmas this year. In addition to it being a stunning whole cake and equally stunning slice, it makes a really nice, toothsome crust around the top edges. Yum.
So please make this cake for something, even if it’s just because you’re having your mother over for dinner and she would like a nice cake with her coffee. Did I mention it’s perfect with coffee? It is. And it is huge, but it freezes (in an airtight container, please) very well for an oddly long time.
Adapted from the recipe Cream Cheese Pound Cake on Elizabeth’s Edible Experience.
Rainbow Cream Cheese Pound Cake
(and again; de-rainbowing is fine and makes a perfectly lovely cake.)
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened at room temp
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temp
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 300˚F. Grease and flour a large (at least 10 cup) bundt pan, shape of your choosing, tapping out the excess flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
Beat butter and cream cheese on high speed for 2-3 minutes. Adjust speed to low and stream in sugar slowly. Once finished, beat again for a few minutes until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for about 10 seconds after each addition. Add in vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Add flour mixture in 2 parts, on low speed, beating until incorporated. Do not overmix.
Now: if you’re just doing a lovely, elegant white bundt cake, then all you do at this point is pour the batter into your prepared pan, smooth out the top, and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or up to 1 hour and 40 minutes, but check at the 1 hour and 15 minute mark to see where your cake is at. You want it to be done all the way through, but not dry, and it should be nice and golden on top. Remove from oven and let cool in pan about 10-15 minutes. Carefully invert cake onto serving platter to cool completely. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
However: if you’re bored, and feeling a little like colorful cake, then here’s what I did. Feel free to improvise, I’m all for that too.
I divided my batter into 5 parts. 2, leave colorless. color each of the three remaining batter bowls with colored food paste (and I recommend paste, yes) of your choosing. Begin with the colorless one and pour evenly into your prepared pan, smoothing it with a spatula as best you can. Next, pour in one of the colors, smoothing it out just like you did the first layer. Repeat until all the batter is in the pan, trying each time not to disturb the layers below.
Once finished, take a long, thin knife and carefully run it up and down around the bundt. The best example I can think of is to pretend it’s a sewing needle moving slowly up, and down, and up, but weaving from the inner to outer edge while it’s moving up and down. I do this two full turns and then I’m done.
Place in oven and cook according to the directions above. Remove from oven and let cool in pan about 10-15 minutes. Carefully invert cake onto serving platter to cool completely. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
Makes one beautiful, beautiful bundt cake.