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Buttermilk Pound Cake

  When life pulls out the big guns, throws deadlines in your face, and has your patience dangling 50 stories high on a thread, what do you do?  Scream?  Keep calm?  Plot?  Pray?  Procrastinate (come clean, now...)?  Cry?  Eat doughnuts?

  I think that it's important to take a step back.  Look at the big picture.  Odds are, what you're doing is staring at one little piece, be it flawed or not, and you need to come back.  Stop thinking so hard.  Ask yourself, is this a first world problem?  Because for me, 99% of the time, it definitely is something totally flippant.

  But somehow, I manage to convince myself that my ability to be happy depends on whether or not I find a pair of shoes in the right color, kiss a boy before I'm 32, am recognized and befriended by a famous person I truly admire, or even such fickle things as getting "likes" on facebook.

  Odds are, those problems sound pretty darn applicable to any teenage girl within a 1000-mile radius.  Yes, that may be true.  But try talking to the girl sometime, for her, those problems are real.  And that needs to be addressed, needs to be put into perspective.  Don't just tease her and leave her hanging, saying it's a phase we all go through (which it is, I agree), but she's really looking for answers.  It's sad, but true.  Just try to take her seriously.  Of course, guys are included in this too.  Minus the shoe issue, perhaps.

  Notice how I said the ability to be happy?  What I mean by that is, happiness isn't always a feeling.  It can be triggered by things other than feelings, it can be controlled by things other than emotions, or even your current circumstances.

  The power to be happy is, ultimately, in your hands.

  By no means does this instantly make me (or you) some fantastic happiness ghuru.  You've go to want that happiness, and sometimes (a lot of the time), you've got to fight for it.  It ain't always instant gratification, people.  Abilities require more action than thought, more muscle than mind.

  Start by looking at the big picture.

  Sure, your pound cake totally bubbled over and your oven needs to be cleaned because, apparently, your bundt pan is too small.  Even though the recipe clearly indicated a 9-inch bundt pan, and that's what yours says...

  But anyway, does it matter?  Did you drop it on the floor?  Did you add too much salt?  Did it break while coming out of the pan (oh the horror stories...)?  No!  You've got a beautiful cake!  Even if it is slightly misshapen and has a crumbly ring, it's delicious.

  And guess what?  It's spring outside.  Stop crying over pound cake and take some freaking pictures of flowers, goshdangit.

  Maybe a cat or two, if they pose nicely.

  Obviously, I need to hear these assertive words that I'm writing as much as the next person.  Writing it out, getting thoughts out there, it does help.  And what I say, I think it's believable, I think it's do-able.  My problem is doing it, living it out.  You've got to own it.

  Simplicity, I believe, really helps with that step back.  Simplicity is underrated, and totally a part of the big picture.  See that pound cake?  It's not drizzled, it's not loaded with crazy things like matcha powder, there are no secrets or tricks, but it's amazing.

  A dab of fresh whipped cream,  and it's golden.

  And, a recommendation.  Wait 1-2 days before digging into this cake.  I'm serious!  While also developing good self-control skills, you'll find this cake developing a sugary crust and a flavor only time can create.  Heed my words, wrap it up and wait.  It's worth it.

  Be ye warned though, really make sure that your bundt pan is about 2/3 full of batter.  Mine, pictured here, was way too full.  I'd say it was more 3/4.  And maybe it's just my pan, but just be sure to double check that when you heap up yours.  2/3!  Check out 17 and Baking's photo, hers is absolutely perfection.

  I might be lusting after her bundt pan.

  First world problems.  I deal.  I like my bundt pan, truly.

  I might still be lusting after her pretty bundt pan.

  Shuttin' up.

Buttermilk Pound Cake
Yield: one 9-inch bundt cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3 1⁄2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pan
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cultured buttermilk
  • Juice of 1 lemon, strained 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt pan.

Sift together the flour (yes, you're technically sifting the flour twice since it's sifted before measuring, just do it), salt, and baking soda. In a stand mixer, beat the butter while drizzling in the sugar, creaming it well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides as needed. On low speed, add a third of the flour mixture until just combined. Then add a third of the buttermilk until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Slowly mix in the lemon juice.

Smooth the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick or thin knife comes out clean, about 75 minutes. The cake should be browned and the edges should be starting to pull away from the pan. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.

Sources: adapted from 17 and Baking, originally from The New York Times