The Lush Flavor Trio Ina Garten Always Uses In Cakes

For fans of the Barefoot Contessa, whatever Ina Garten says, goes. The famous food personality has brought her viewers, readers, and followers a multitude of kitchen hacks and renowned dishes, including that one recipe that stands above the rest (her famous roast chicken, of course). With 12 cookbooks and hundreds of Food Network episodes under her belt, Garten has shared more culinary tips and tricks than we can count. And in one particular hack, Garten is taking us back to one of the most classic kinds of cake: the perfect pound cake.

Pound cake doesn't require many pantry items. In fact, a simple pound cake recipe often only calls for standard baking ingredients like flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. What does Garten do differently? Well, Kitchn explained that Garten's latest cookbook, "Go-To-Dinners," calls for a trio of unique flavors to mix into your pound cake batter that we probably wouldn't have thought of otherwise. 

Garten uses cognac, lemon zest, and vanilla extract

Garten advises utilizing cognac, lemon zest, and vanilla extract for the perfect pound cake. To try it yourself, just mix the three together and then stir them into your pound cake batter. Don't have cognac? You can substitute another type of brandy that's made from white wine grapes, such as armagnac (via VinePair). Cognac has a subtler taste while armagnac is more robust, but both should lend a fruity, nutty, spicy-sweet flavor to the cake — one that Garten apparently loves to pair with bright, fragrant lemon zest and floral vanilla extract. 

Since traditional pound cake is such a blank canvas of a dessert, there are many ways you can switch up the ingredients and baking process. For example, in the summer you can add summer squash to the batter for a more nutrient-packed bake. There is even an easy hack out there that advises against preheating the oven before popping your bundt pan in, which some say allows for a fluffier pound cake (even while going against all the laws of baking). We can't help but wonder how Garten feels about that tip!