If Yan Could Cook. . .

Buttermilk Pound Cake & Flambéed Pineapple

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A young woman from France, doing a stage at a restaurant where I had the entirely ludicrous and nonsensical title of “head brunch chef” , taught me how to flambé fruit. That same day, she saw me haul out a box of cream cheese and asked what it was.

“Uh, fromage à la crème?” I tried, having heard a Francophone waitress call it “Fro-Cro”.

She told me that they didn’t have cream cheese in Paris. “So what do you put on bagels?” the dishwasher (the human being, not the machine) asked.

“Nobody eats bagels in France,” she said.

I brought this up with the only other person I knew from France, and he scoffed. “Of course there are bagels and cream cheese in France. In some part of France. People from Paris just don’t eat anything other than Parisian food, just like people from Provence only eat Provençal food. ‘French food’ means nothing there.”

A group of friends came over last night for dessert. Each person got a slice of pound cake with a border of flambéed pineapple on one edge, a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and crosswise drizzles of storebought caramel syrup. Photos by Laura D’Alessandro.

I halved this recipe to make a buttermilk pound cake in a loaf pan (it calls for a 10-inch tube pan), omitting the lemon extract, and it came out quite well.

I carved a pineapple into large chunks (this turned out to be quite ugly – I’d use finer slices next time) and let them sit in a syrup made of brown sugar and their own juices for about an hour. These went into a pan of butter to fry on both sides on medium heat.

For the fun part, I warmed some good rum slightly in a separate pan, then drained off some of the buttery syrup (boo!) from the pineapple pan. Once the rum was in with the pineapples, I tilted the pan over the flame of my gas range so it would catch, then kept the pan moving to spread the flames. The pineapple didn’t pick up as much colour as I hoped, but I think that’s because I used a nonstick pan. The storebought caramel syrup was more of a decorative flourish and an afterthought; I bought it ages ago to put in coffee.

After eating and drinking (I thought the cake went very well with my rum and lemon juice), we went out to one of the most famous clubs in town – a rooftop terrace a hundred-stories up – only to discover we weren’t, as a group, very club-going people. But somewhere, in the depths of my soul and my closet, lies someone who can dive into the sweaty-cheering-meatmarket-pounding-throbbing-blackout-beat, someone who did.

Serendipitously, a friend from those days e-mailed me this morning, saying she was heading back into town. One of the best things about adulthood is that no one asks you to be any one thing in particular – you can be as many things as you want.

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Written by skimfu

August 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Dessert

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