One of the best things that I got at pastry school is the recipe book. Most intensive pastry schools give out a book or booklet of some type that contains the simple recipes that are used as building blocks in pastry. Recipes like crème anglaise, baguette, buttercreams, and just so much more. I’ve used almost all of them either in school or since but there are still a few that have slipped by and I have yet to make them. Sandkuchen is one of those recipes.
It sat in the cake section with frangipane, tortes, and sponges galore. I always skipped over it not knowing exactly what it was. I don’t know why it’s included in the book, but for some reason it is so I needed to know more. When you translate Sandkuchen it literally means “sand cake”, and that’s kind of exactly what it is. Sandkuchen is a classic German Pound Cake. Similar in flavor to what you’d expect a pound cake but the texture is where things get interesting. It has the basics of a pound cake, almost all the main blocks (flour, sugar, butter, eggs) are around the same weight. The bit that’s different though is half the dry in cornstarch rather than a wheat flour. This takes a lot of the gluten structure and replaces it with starch granules. The resulting texture is exactly what the name is, a sandy cake.
I’m not saying you’ll get a mouth full of sand. It’s not a mouth full of sand. The texture just crumbles a little more. It falls into these fine pieces that do have a slightly sandy texture but it also melts a little and is quite delicious. Traditionally the cake has a slight lemon flavor and since I had some candied lemon peels left over from pannetonne making, I wanted to use those up and mix them in. I also wanted to play a bit with the flavor and basil goes really well with lemon so I added some ground basil to bring a bit more herbiness to the cake and elevate the flavor profile.
Basil is already a huge building block in a lot of my cooking and I’m sure many others use it a lot too. It has a lot of benefits from blood health with circulation and blood pressure, and even can help with the gums to makes sure your teeth are healthy and aid bad breath. Since it doesn’t have a prominent savory flavor I knew it would be a great flavor to add to the lemon and include in this pound cake.
Lemon Basil Sandkuchen
375g Unsalted Butter, soft
372g Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Dried Basil
7 ea. Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Lemon Extract
225g All Purpose Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
55g Candied Lemon Peels, chopped
Cream the butter, sugar, and basil until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs in thirds, scraping and fully mixing before each addition. Mix until light and fluffy.
Mix the cornstarch, flour, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Add the salt and extracts to the egg mixture and mix.
Fold in the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the chopped lemon peel.
Spread into a greased bundt pan.
Bake at 350F for about 50-60 minutes.
This cake can certainly be done in cake pans but I wanted to attempt this bundt pan again… I thought since it’s pound cake and would be denser it should work better right? I was so wrong.
I made sure to grease the pan like hell, I let the cake cool for about 20 minutes before attempting to remove. I did everything in my power to make it come out as clean as I could. For the most part it was a nice look, but there was still a little that stuck behind and was ripped off. It’s not perfect but I still love it even unperfect.
The rest of making the cake was smooth sailing. It was an easy mix it up and bake pound cake. The texture was pleasing, not typical cake but the “sandy” texture was a fun play compared to traditional cake. I really enjoyed it a lot. I also froze some slices (figuring out the right amount for the pan made a lot) and this gave me a chance to see shelf life and how to make it last. The first time I took a slice out it was a warm day and I was working in the garden, wanted a little snack and grabbed a slice since my freezer is in the garage. Even without thawing it was so good. A little firm from the cold but super refreshing on a hot day. It reminded me a bit of a slice of Sara Lee pound cake from the store. Nice and firm but a slight give to bite into and enjoy.
The lemon peels dispersed throughout were a great texture change in the cake, plus a nice burst of lemon. The basil is a gorgeous undertone in flavor and doesn’t stand in the spotlight but you know it’s there. This was one of the first times I used basil in a sweeter aspect and I am in love with it. Lemon and basil are a great combination and refreshing. They will have to make an appearance again in more baked goods, especially in the summer.
If you attempt this cake at home and don’t want the basil feel free to take it out, but I highly advise to try it once and see for yourself. It’s not a strong flavor and really compliments the lemon. Likewise, no one should be afraid of the “sandy” texture this cake brings. It’s honestly really enjoyable and if I had to pic between a standard pound cake and this I’d probably go with sandkuchen. It’s different and unique, the way it crumbles and melts a little when you chew it is pleasant and would be great on a summer afternoon or at a barbeque with some summer fruit. Let me know below if you attempt this recipe at home and share how much you like it or not!