With holiday season fast approaching, we all find ourselves stuck in some variation of a tenuous relationship with food.
Some of us fear putting on the so-called “holiday pounds” so greatly that we have to create a damage-avoidance plan with a built-in “just say no” policy in regards to… well, pretty much everything that isn’t weight management friendly.
Others of us revel in the pies and cookies and third helpings of gravy-drenched mashed potatoes, throwing caution to the wind and rationalizing our decisions by resolving to join a gym on January 1st. Come January, we make the gym visits just routine enough to get our lazy, squishy asses back to the way they were before our annual day-after-Halloween-70%-off-bags-of-candy shopping spree. We say goodbye to the gym shortly thereafter, and only return about a month before Halloween so we can see to it that we look like, so totally hot in our sexy hamburger costume on the 31st.
The rest of us find ourselves in an epic tug-of-war between the two opposing philosophies; we ricochet back and forth between self-discipline and pure gluttony like a pinball diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, weaving in and out of guilt and pleasure and sometimes feeling both at once.
Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum of holiday-induced disordered eating, each and every last one of us has what I like to call an “exception food.” An exception food is that one irresistible thing that you can’t refuse when you’re trying to behave, and that food that moves you to consume excessive amounts of it even when you’re being naughty. When you close your eyes and envision the holidays, a neon flashing image of this food sears itself onto the canvas of your inner eyelids. It is your Achilles’ heel, your deepest desire, and, whatever it is, it replaces the sugar plum fairies that dance in your head.
For me, it’s apple cider. Cider doughnuts, cider cupcakes, sparkling cider, spiced cider, baked apples drizzled in a cider glaze– really, just apple cider in any of its innumerable manifestations.
Minus a deep fryer and unwilling to make a baked-instead-of-fried version of cider doughnuts (thereby compromising the overall integrity of said cider doughnuts), I decided to pop a bottle of bubbly [cider] and try something new.
Sparkling Cider Pound Cake with Cinnamon & Sparkling Cider Glaze
For the pound cake (adapted from chef-n-training):
1/2 cup (one stick) sweet cream unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups refined sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sparkling apple cider (I used Martinelli’s brand)
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sparkling apple cider
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Grease and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan
3. Combine butter, sugar, and shortening in a medium bowl and beat with a hand-held mixer, add eggs one at a time, mixing in between
4. In a separate small bowl, pour flour, salt, and baking powder; stir until mixed
5. Slowly add contents of small bowl to the bowl containing wet ingredients, beat with mixer until thoroughly incorporated
6. Add sparkling cider and mix
7. Pour batter into loaf pan, bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean
8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then remove from pan and transfer to a wire cooling rack
9. In a medium bowl, whisk together sparkling cider, cinnamon, and powdered sugar
10. Drizzle glaze over cooled loaf
11. Allow glaze to set, then wrap loaf in Saran wrap and foil and store in refrigerator (I actually like to freeze mine until serving– that way, it stays fresh!)
*Top with two cinnamon sticks when ready to serve for pretty presentation