Appetite for cake

Wednesday lunch buddy (WLB) and I met at Black Star Pastry this week, for a change of scenery and some coffee and pastry treats (quiche for her, mini banana cake for me – delicious; loved the fresh banana bits). Talk meandered from babies who hug with their whole bodies, to men who haven’t been hugging much lately, and eventually we turned to Audrey Hepburn. Now there’s a woman who will forever remain timeless. WLB is going through an Audrey phase, watching DVD collections of her movies. Some classics are so good they bear revisiting.

That’s what I thought, when I revisted a classic with a classic. I’m sure the hard gritty rock of Guns and Roses was never intended to be sung along to, by a short, pink clad, Asian girl, while she’s creaming butter for pound cake. But there I was, with apologies to our neighbour, knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s dooooooooah!

Pound cake is one of those sturdy, buttery cakes I freely admit to craving every now and then. Good pound cake freely kisses sugar, eggs and flour and is unabashedly a butter-burst of moistness. Your teeth thank you, when you sink them into a slice.

So here I’m offering two very different riffs on the classic pound cake. Currently in Sydney we are straddling two seasons (the hot vs the cold), and it seems quite appropriate to be celebrating the glory of Spring with fava bean (or broad bean) pound cake, whilst still giving a nod to an Autumn and Winter’s past, with a damp chestnut and walnut pound cake.

The chestnut pound cake comes from Alice Medrich’s book, Pure Dessert. She recommends having a slice of this cake with a glass of sherry (and I couldn’t agree more!). I’m not including the recipe because by now, I think everyone should already own a copy of that fabulous book!

Fava Bean Pound Cakes :
(enough for six friand-sized cakes; from The Dessert Book, by Hidemi Sugino)

For the batter :
100g unsalted butter, thinly sliced, plus additional for greasing pans
150g icing sugar
180g whole eggs
70g plain flour
1.5g (1/3 tsp) baking powder
100g almond meal
60g poached fava bean puree (see below)

For the garnish :
Poached fava beans, for top and garnish
Diced almonds, for top

For the syrup :
60g fava bean poaching syrup
60g kirsch

Combine syrup ingredients; set aside. Butter baking pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder and almond meal.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine butter and sugar; process for 4 to 5 seconds. Gradually add eggs, and flour mixture, processing for 4 to 5 seconds, after each addition. Transfer to a bowl and fold in bean puree.

Pour this batter into a pastry bag without a tip and pipe evenly into buttered pans. Lightly tap pans in order to release the trapped air from the batter. Sprinkle each with almonds and 2 fava beans on top. Bake in a 170’C oven until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Remove from pans, transfer to a wire rack, and brush syrup while warm. Garnish with poached fava beans if desired.

Poached Fava Beans :

60g granulated sugar
2/3 vanilla bean, split
150g water
150g peeled frozen fava beans

Heat sugar, vanilla and water together over high heat until sugar dissolves. Add fava beans, bring to a simmer, and cook for 1 minutes; let cool to room temperature. Transfer into an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight. To puree beans, process in a food processor or mash.

Note: If you use fresh fava beans, cook them in salted boiling water, immediately shock into cold water and peel before poaching.



  1. Lorraine E said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

    Another pound cake lover here too! But I’ve never seen a fava bean one-sounds intriguing.

    I like November Rain to cook along to-so dramatic! Just made for making spun toffee and other dramatic feats 😉

  2. clumbsycookie said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

    Fava beans in a pc??? Now that’s interesting. Anyway everything you do look good, what ever you put in it I’ll have to believe it’s delicious!

  3. FFichiban said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

    Fava bean pound cake and a nice chianti :D? It sure does sounds interesting.
    And Gunners are awesommeeee ^^!

  4. Y said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

    FFichiban, dang, why didn’t I think of that! ;P

  5. redmenace said,

    November 21, 2008 @ 3:24 am

    Who would ever have thought? I love fava beans. Thank you for this idea!

  6. snookydoodle said,

    November 21, 2008 @ 4:28 am

    wow what a strange recipe. I didn t know fava beans were used in cakes too. Interesting recipe. I ll surely prefer the walnuts though. both cakes look really nice.

  7. Lael said,

    November 21, 2008 @ 4:53 am

    Oh, I know I should own Pure Dessert by now, but I don’t! Maybe I’ll bump it to the top of my Christmas list. Anyway, this fava bean pound cake sounds very good. I think I had some similar pastries in Japan (they love the whole sweet bean thing), and it would be fun to make it myself in pound cake form. Yum! Thanks for sharing your creativity.

  8. cakebrain said,

    November 21, 2008 @ 8:13 am

    I had to do a double-take with that little fava bean atop your cake! it’s so cute! I can see this being yummy! way creative!

  9. veggiebelly said,

    November 21, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

    Wow! What a unique pound cake! You present it so beautifully 🙂

  10. Christy said,

    November 21, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

    Hey, guess what? I just bought that book yesterday with my Borders Shortlist coupon!! Aren’t I glad I made the purchase now!!

    Yes, we are in the middle of the annual battle of cold vs hot weather here in Melbourne too, with the weekend forecast being thunderstorm at the top of 17 degree Celsius. All weekend!! Imagine that! Lucky I’ll be working away next to a hot oven for the rest of the week.

    Fava beans…I don’t believe that I’ve heard of them before. Where did you get them from in Sydney?

    Beautiful pound cakes, and aren’t they always a treat!!

  11. grace said,

    November 22, 2008 @ 12:18 am

    beans in a pound cake? how new, how unique, how exciting! still…i can’t help but think of hannibal lecter every single time i hear about fava beans. 🙂

  12. Marysol said,

    November 22, 2008 @ 3:07 am

    Y, this is one of the most creative recipes I’ve ever laid eyes upon. The addition of the fava beans is one I’ve never heard of, but then, I eat with my eyes, and that cake certainly looks delicious.
    Btw, your choice of music, why, we could be sisters. I can still belt out Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door whenever I’m alone in the house, or in the car, with imaginary mike in hand. Oh, you should hear the crowd roar.

  13. Sophie said,

    November 22, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

    We’d have so much fun baking together, I love singing and baking! Also dancing and cooking, it’s a good thing I have a big kitchen ;)! A good pound cake is definitely a classic that never gets old, like that awesome Audrey Hepburn (she’s fabulous!). I love your two versions, so unique and tasty! 🙂

  14. Vera said,

    November 22, 2008 @ 4:19 pm

    Fava bean pound cake sounds extremely interesting, Y! And I like you current repertoire 🙂

  15. Aran said,

    November 22, 2008 @ 11:00 pm


  16. Satria said,

    November 23, 2008 @ 8:58 am

    It is happy to see your posting. Yes really informative article. I will tell this information again to my friend, oh yes I suggest you to check my blog on , I hope the article on my blog will be usefull for you… and we can share each other. thank you… 😉

  17. arfi said,

    November 23, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

    is that broad bean? why, yes it is! how interesting! i thought it was like green glace cherry that you’ve flattened somehow…

  18. Jesse said,

    November 23, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

    Oh, how interesting! Never thought of this combination before… yum!

  19. Christie@fig&cherry said,

    November 24, 2008 @ 6:19 am

    Broad bean and vanilla – loving that combo! Ah, you’re a clever little Pi, aren’t you?

  20. Katie said,

    November 24, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

    Yum, those look great! I love the touch of green.

  21. Lori said,

    November 24, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

    You are a classic! I’ll have to try Guns n Roses. My personal favourite is Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’… ditto about the Asian girl thing, I like to listen to it while covering cakes with fondant. The smoothing process takes so goshdarn long that it is essential to have a good soundtrack. But I’m beginning to get sick of my music, need to find something new!

  22. the caked crusader said,

    November 24, 2008 @ 7:23 pm

    I made banana cake this week – you’d have loved it!

    Never heard of using fava beans in a cake before but who am I to question it? I made a brussel sprout cake!

  23. Miri said,

    November 25, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

    I’ve never heard of using fava beans in cakes and sweets, sounds interesting and looks really yummy!

  24. Tartelette said,

    November 27, 2008 @ 9:34 am

    I was just looking at his recipe the other day going “Oh that looks good!” yet wondering how it would taste….Seeing it here “live” makes me want to make them for sure!!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment