Category Archives: Pound Cake

Making Pound Cake

Five-year-old Joan Pastry saw the cake emerge from the oven and said “Ooh! That’s the kind of cake you put berries and whipped cream on top of!” I have no idea how she knew that, but why fight a perfectly sound impulse?

Making a pound cake can be a no-brainer or a highly complex operation. Me I tend to fuss over them, as it’s a Joe Pastry rule that the simpler a preparation is, the more attention needs to be paid to the technique. A perfectly mixed pound cake can practically sing opera. Start the process by assembling your ingredients and preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then grease and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. If you’re using Baker’s Joy you can do both in one step.

Now sift your cake flour and salt into a medium bowl.

Now’s a good time to add a little flavoring if you like. Here are two teaspoons of citrus rind…lemon and orange, but you can use lime too if you like. Whisk that together.

Pour the vanilla into the eggs.

Now combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of your stand mixer. Really good butter will make a difference here if you feel like spending a little green.

Beat that for about a minute, then scrape.

Beat about another three minutes until it’s very pale and fluffy. Now start adding the eggs one at a time. Beat the batter after each egg goes in, until the batter re-fluffs and is no longer wet-looking. It should be light and lustrous. (As a side note I should say that you can whip the whole eggs into a semi-foam if you want to add height…people once did that, you know).

Scrape after three of the eggs have gone in.

By the time all the eggs are in the batter might be a little broken-looking. That’s alright. You don’t want to beat the batter forever. Start adding the flour in a steady stream.

Stir it on low for about a minute until most of the flour has been incorporated. Scrape, then mix another few seconds. In the old days currants were frequently added at this step. Feel free to indulge. Some mini chocolate chips certainly wouldn’t hurt if you’re inclined that way.

Scrape the batter into the pan. Indent the center a little since the middle will crown a bit in the oven. Bake about 70 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You may need to tent the cake with foil to keep the top from browning. Check it after an hour to judge that and rotate the pan.

Bake it to about here. Let it cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

To de-pan, place a second rack on top.

Flip. Remove the top rack and the pan.

Replace the rack.

Flip. Remove the top rack. Let it cool completely.

Eat it or freeze it for up to two months. Pound cake is a great thing to have around just in case. It can be sliced horizontally in layers and filled with lemon or lime curd…one of my favorite treatments. But really, you can do just about anything with it, knowdimean?

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Pound Cake Recipe

Pound cakes haven’t changed all that much since the days of the “four quarters” cakes made with a pound each of butter, eggs, sugar and flour. That makes a hell of a big cake, and one that tends to dry out in the oven before it’s done. Modern versions are not only smaller, they’re tweaked to produce a slightly lighter product. Still you can see that there’s roughly 9 ounces of everything in here:

9 ounces (2 cups) cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
9.25 (1 1/3 cups) ounces sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and set a rack in the lower third of the oven. Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Turn the the mixer up to medium high and beat for about a minute, then scrape down the sides and beat for an addition 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy.

With the mixer running at medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding another. Scrape the bowl once or twice in the process.

Turn the machine down to low and add the flour in a steady stream. Scrape the bowl when the flour is nearly incorporated, then stir a few seconds more until the batter is smooth. Scrape the batter into a lightly greased and floured 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

Bake on a middle rack about 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Loosen the cake with a butter knife, then invert the pan onto the rack. Remove the pan, place another rack on top of the cake and flip the whole works over. Remove the top rack and let the cake cool completely.

Filed under:  Pastry, Pound Cake | 14 Comments