Milkweed Flower Pound Cake

This recipe will get you out into the warm meadows of summer to forage for just a few ounces of milkweed flowers. Be sure to gather only what you need, and do not damage the leaves so that there’s plenty of food for butterfly caterpillars. Load up on local butter — pound cake needs lots. Also stock up on farm-fresh eggs… or start a plan to raise your own chickens next year with Rent the Chicken. They can get you completely set up for a happy and healthy flock in 2024. No matter how you gather the elements of this simple recipe, it’s a deliciously simple summer dessert.

Milkweed Flower Pound Cake Recipe

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MILKWEED CORDIAL:
4 cups water
5 cups white sugar
1 tsp citric acid
7 oz fresh milkweed flowers, stems removed and deeply colored as possible

INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Heat the water until warm, but not boiling.
    2. Add the sugar and citric acid then whisk until the syrup is clear. Cool the syrup.
    3. Look over the milkweed flowers for any creepy-crawlies, then put into a container and pour the cooled syrup over them.
    4. Put a lid, label, and date on the container and let it sit in the sunshine on a windowsill for 4 days.
    5. After 3 days, strain the syrup, using gloves to squeeze as much liquid from the flowers as possible. Discard the flowers. Refrigerate the syrup until needed.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE POUND CAKE:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks (these egg yolks are in addition to the whole eggs listed above)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and generously grease a 10-inch tube pan or 12-cup Bundt pan with shortening and flour. Shake out excess flour and set aside.
  2. Place your butter in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it is creamy and smooth.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the ingredients are well combined and light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes).
  4. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, combine your eggs, additional egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt.
  5. Use a fork to lightly beat the eggs and yolks until all egg yolks are broken up and salt and vanilla are incorporated.
  6. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour egg mixture into your batter, allowing it to gradually become incorporated. Don’t pour all the egg mixture in at once: if you can’t manage a steady stream then add the egg mixture in about 6 parts, allowing each part to become well incorporated before adding more.
  7. Once all of the egg mixture is incorporated, pause to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
  8. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually, about ¼ cup at a time, add flour to the batter until all has been added.
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and stir again on medium speed until well combined and beat for another minute.
  10. Spread batter evenly into prepared tube pan using a spatula to smooth the surface of the batter.
  11. Transfer to 350-degree oven and bake in the center rack of your oven for 1 hour, 10-15 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the thickest part of the cake comes out clean, ideally with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake this cake or it will be dry.
  12. Allow cake to cool for at least 20 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the tube pan and the center.
  13. Carefully invert pound cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE ICING:
1/4 cup milkweed cordial
2 cups powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix together until mixture becomes a thick glaze. Drizzle onto cooled and sliced pound cake.

Recipes and Styling by Anna Calabrese / Photography by Laura Petrilla and Dave Bryce / With Support from Buy Fresh Buy Local Western PA

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