Pound Cake With Vanilla Bean Custard and Blueberry Sauce

 

We had the best Farewell Party a few weeks ago. Our home was filled with friends from all parts of our 15+ years in Los Angeles. We shared memories, hugs, and said our “until next time” to everyone.

Befitting our final party with great friends, we put together a massive spread of food and drinks. One of the desserts was this pound cake served with vanilla bean custard and blueberry sauce. It just sounds like a nice summer dessert, right?

With three components, this dessert was a bit of an undertaking. But I was pleased with the result. The pound cake was dense and buttery, the vanilla-flecked custard was rich, and the blueberry sauce added in some perfect zesty fruit notes.  Serve the cake at room temperature, with a chilled dollop or two of the custard and sauce.

Also, the leftovers make a nice bressert. Yes, I just made breakfast-dessert a thing.

Pound Cake With Vanilla Bean Custard & Blueberry Sauce

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For the pound cake:

3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla plus 1 tsp almond extract)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease one 9 or 10 inch Bundt pan. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar. Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes. Do not open oven door until after one hour. When cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan it is done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

For the vanilla bean custard:

1 cup whole milk
Seeds 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a small saucepan, combine your milk and vanilla bean flecks (if using extract instead, don’t add it yet). Heat the mixture until it is warm, then set aside.
In the bottom of a small saucepan, off the heat, beat or whisk your egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar together vigorously, until it pales in color and a ribbon of batter falls off your whisk when you lift it from the bowl; this will take a few minutes by hand, and likely just one minute with an electric mixer. Whisk in the flour until fully incorporated.

Whisking the whole time, drizzle the warm vanilla-milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, just a tiny bit at a time at first. Once you’ve added about 1/4 of the milk, you can add the rest in a thin stream, whisking constantly.

Bring the saucepan to your stove and heat it over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. Once bubbling, whisk it for 1 to 2 more minutes, then remove it from the heat. Immediately stir in vanilla extract (if using) and butter until combined. [Updated to add] As a final step for a perfectly smooth and silky custard, you can press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. You can also skip this step if you’re not terribly concerned about an imperfect custard.

To cool your custard quickly, place the saucepan in a larger bowl of ice water that will go halfway up the sides of the saucepan (i.e. water should not spill in) and stir the custard until lukewarm, then divide among serving dishes or ramekins. You can also pour it into serving dishes or ramekins still hot, but you should then press a film of plastic wrap against each custard in the fridge so it doesn’t form a pudding skin. Custards keep in fridge for up to 4 days.

For the blueberry sauce:

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/2 cup of water, sugar and lemon juice. Stir frequently, and bring to a low boil.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water.
Slowly stir the corn starch into the blueberries, taking care not to crush the blueberries. Simmer until the blueberry sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and gently stir in vanilla and lemon zest. Chill.

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