March 4th celebrates one of our favorite holidays: National Pound Cake Day.
We admit to fighting the trend, and would much rather have a dense slice of pound cake than an airy cupcake.
Pound cake is a loaf cake, although some people make them in Bundt pans.
The original pound cake, buttery and moist, recipe was made with one pound each of butter, flour, sugar and eggs (that’s about eight eggs)—hence the name.
Vanilla or lemon are the classic flavors added to pound cake flavors, but quite a few variations have evolved through the years. See the history of pound cake, below.
This recipe from The Baker Chick adds a later addition, cream cheese, which first appeared in the 1880s (the history of cream cheese).
There’s a vanilla bean glaze, but the gustatory experience is just as wonderful without it.
Thanks to The Baker Chick for the recipe. Sign up for her emails and get a steady stream of irresistible sweet and savory recipes.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Spray well or grease a 10-inch bundt cake pan.
2. CREAM together the butter, cream cheese and sugar for about 5 minutes or until very light and fluffy. Stir in the extracts.
3. ADD the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.
4. TURN the mixer to low speed and add the flour slowly and gradually. Do not over-mix (it toughens the crumb‡).
5. POUR the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 325°F for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. MAKE the glaze: Pour the milk into a glass measuring cup and scrape in the vanilla bean. Let the bean steep for an hour to give the milk mixture a strong vanilla flavor. (If you start the glaze it when the cake goes into the oven, it will be ready as the cake is cooling.)
7. ADD the powdered sugar and whisk with a fork until the glaze is thick and the right consistency for drizzling. Drizzle over the cooled cake.
* Use cake flour for the perfect velvety texture. If you don’t have it, you can use all-purpose and subtract 3 tablespoons of flour. Substitute 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and gently whisk together before using.
† You can substitute a mixture of lowfat milk and heavy cream for whole milk.
‡ The crumb is the professional term for the inside of a bread or cake. Depending on the recipe, the crumb can be soft or firm, dense or full of holes.
The original recipe, developed in England in the 1700s, made a very large and dense cake, like fruit cake. By the mid-1800s, the ingredient proportions had been adjusted to make the smaller, relatively lighter cake we know and love today.
The original pound cake, buttery and moist, recipe was made with one pound each of butter, flour, sugar and eggs (that’s about eight eggs), plus flavoring—hence the name.
In fact, the British pound cake is actually a fruit cake, containing currants, raisins, sultanas (golden raisins) and glacé cherries. Pound cakes were the traditional wedding cakes.
Since the ingredients are so simple, it’s hard to make a bad pound cake—just use the freshest eggs and butter you can find, real vanilla extract, and don’t over-bake.
Today’s pound cake is a loaf cake, although some people make them in Bundt pans.
Vanilla or lemon are the classic pound cake flavors, but quite a few variations have evolved through the years, adding:
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