Heart-healthy canola oil helps lighten a classic dessert, while an ingenious technique deepens flavor and adds richness.
Sidney Fry, MS, RD
November 28, 2011
1 of 5Photography: Johnny Autry
Less-than-a-Pound Pound Cake
Dense, moist pound cake gets its name from the classic recipe of a pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. No surprise that a slice weighs in at more than 700 calories and a day's dose of saturated fat. Can anything replace the richness of a block of butter—and still maintain that treasured tender crumb?
Yes: After testing cakes that were dry, crumbly, or spongy, we found that a deft combo of butter and canola oil was the fix, with the help of a smart trick. See, canola oil may be righteously heart-healthy, but it's also bland—until you steep a vanilla bean in it. This magically transforms the oil, giving it a creamy texture and rich flavor. We happily break with tradition, cutting half the calories and 80% of the saturated fat—in a cake that can stand proudly beside the original.
The Classic: •707calories per slice • 39.6 grams total fat • 23.7 grams saturated fat
The Makeover: •294calories per slice • 12.6 grams total fat • 4.7 grams saturated fat
2 of 5Photography: Johnny Autry
Butter/Canola Oil Combo Subbing vanilla-infused oil for some of the butter saves 174 calories and 15g of sat fat per serving.
Two Eggs We reduced the traditional pound of eggs by 75% and cut another 47 calories and 1g of saturated fat per serving.
Nonfat Buttermilk The thick, tangy milk makes up for our drastic fat reduction by balancing the cake with richness and moisture.
3 of 5Photography: Johnny Autry
Warming a split vanilla bean in canola oil infuses the oil with deep vanilla essence as the seeds spill out and mingle in the liquid. This is a simple, quick step that is well worth the little bit of time and effort.
Lay the vanilla bean flat on a cutting board. Using a small, sharp knife with a tip, split the vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise, end to end.
4 of 5Photography: Johnny Autry
Heat the oil with the vanilla bean to speed up the infusion process. Bring the oil to a simmer, remove from heat, and allow to come to room temperature before proceeding.
5 of 5Photography: Johnny Autry
When the pod is cool enough to handle, scrape out any remaining flavor-packed seeds, and stir into the oil. Tip: Store the scraped pod in your vanilla extract to enhance flavor.