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Make this pound cake from pastry chef Mindy Segal of Chicago’s Hot Chocolate ahead of time and take it with you camping to toast over the fire. Lemon simple syrup adds a nice crust to the outside of the pound cake, and any extra syrup can be used for cocktails.

Smoky Toasted Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Moist and rich, this pound cake gets a gloss of lemon syrup before slices are caramelized in a skillet over hot coals, and dressed in a boozy berry compote.
Yield: serves 8
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 15 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 1 14 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 14 cups sugar
  • 34 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 12 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 sprigs lemon verbena or lemon thyme
  • 1 lb. hulled strawberries, halved
  • 1 (12-oz.) bottle of berry lambic (fruit beer) (available at binnys.com)
  • Goat butter, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Grease one 9 x 5 x 2 34-inch loaf pan with butter and dust with flour; set aside. Whisk 1 14 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Separately, combine 34 cup sugar, 9 tbsp. butter, the cream cheese, and vanilla seeds in a large bowl; beat on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add dry ingredients and vanilla extract; beat on low speed until just combined. Spread into even layer in loaf pan and bake until golden and cooked through, 50–55 minutes; let cool.
  2. Make the lemon verbena syrup: Combine 14 cup sugar, the lemon verbena, and 14 cup water in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high; cook until sugar has dissolved, 2–3 minutes. Strain, discarding herbs, and cool.
  3. To serve: Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a grill pan over medium-high.) Combine remaining sugar, strawberries, and beer in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet; cook until fruit is soft and liquid has reduced by 34, 20 minutes; keep warm. Wipe skillet clean and heat over grill; slice pound cake into 1-inch-thick slices and brush with lemon verbena syrup. Working in batches, heat remaining butter in skillet and cook pound cake, flipping once, until golden, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to plates and smear with goat butter; top with warm berries.

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