One of the best ways to usher in Spring is with a trip to The Old Manse, a house built in the 1700’s by the Emerson family of Concord, Massachusetts. Abutting Minuteman National Park and the Old North Bridge, this house had a full view of the start of American Revolution. A generation later, Ralph Waldo Emerson sat by the fire in this house to write Nature, the seminal work of the Trascendentalist Movement.
In 1842, author Nathaniel Hawthorne carried his new bride Sophia across the threshold of this home. They rented The Old Manse for $100 per month. For a wedding present, Henry David Thoreau made them a beautiful vegetable garden in the front yard, which still stands today.
They skated in the winter. Boats carried lanterns down the river in the summer. What a wonderful respite from the world!
Today you can still pull your canoe up on the banks of the Manse to enjoy the view, tour the house, or have a leisurely picnic in the park next door.
We didn’t take a canoe this time but we did take pound cake. As a note to purists, the recipe doesn’t meet the strict definition of pound cake (equal parts butter, sugar and eggs). It’s a bit lighter but the texture is similar and the flavor is sensational. I’m making another one to serve with strawberries this weekend.
When you need to connect to nature, be sure to visit this special place. In the meantime, enjoy the cake!
White Chocolate Pound Cake
17 1/2 tbs. (250 g) unsalted butter
1 c (180 g) good quality white chocolate (I used Callebaut)
1 3/4 c (330 g) sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c (180 ml) half and half
1 2/3 c flour (225 g) flour
1/2 c (75 g) self-rising flour (if you don’t have self- rising flour substitute 1/2 c flour, 1/4 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp. baking powder)
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside.
Melt butter and chocolate together in a microwave at low temperature. Check and stir frequently. White chocolate can seize so it’s best to stir regularly and use the residual heat from the bowl to melt the last bits of the chocolate. Remove from microwave, stir in sugar. It will separate a bit and it’s okay.
Add chocolate-butter-sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Lightly beat half and half, vanilla and eggs together. Add to mixing bowl with chocolate mixture and mix until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients on low speed. Mix slightly. Turn off mixer and scrape down the bowl. Then, beat on medium high for 20-30 seconds or until a nice smooth batter forms. (warning – the batter is delicious)
Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for about 60 minutes. The length of time it takes to bake will vary depending upon the oven your using and the settings so keep an eye on it. I’m using a different oven and the cake takes about 70 minutes. In my own oven, it takes about 50 minutes. When the top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes our clean, set the cake to cool on a rack.