Growing up, I had a thing about pound cake. Every time my mother served it for dessert, I’d smash my fist into my slice of cake and declare, “Pound cake!!”
That is not how this dense, moist cake got its name, however. The original recipe called for a pound of each of the major ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. The following recipe doesn’t force you to weigh anything, but it is amazingly delicious and beloved at first bite by everyone, bar none. It is simplicity itself, but good results are wholly dependent on technique, as the only leavening in this cake, comes from beating lots of air into the butter, sugar, and egg mixture.
In other words, if you’re a baker and you know what you’re doing, this cake is right up your alley. It’s not difficult to make, but does need to be made by someone who knows what they are doing. Scrape the bowl often during mixing. Mix on high speed for a long time, but fold in the flour gently.
Serve the pound cake with a scoop of sorbet, or stewed plums. Sprinkle a slice with your liqueur of choice, or with orange blossom water. Vary the flavoring in the cake by adding ground mace, a traditional pound cake spice, or try some almond extract in addition to the vanilla.
Vanilla Pound Cake
Yield: 16 servings
- 2 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 ½ cups butter or margarine, softened
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups cake flour
- (confectioner’s sugar for garnish)
- Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan (an Israeli Wonderpot is a great substitute!) and preheat oven to 325°
- Beat sugar and butter or margarine in large mixing bowl just until blended. Increase mixer speed gradually to high; beat until very light and fluffy, scraping bowl often, for around 5 minutes.
- Add vanilla, salt, and eggs. Beat on low speed until well blended, scraping bowl often. Increase mixer speed to high; beat 3 minutes, scraping bowl from time to time.
- Fold in cake flour ideally with a wire whisk or run mixer on low until just mixed. Do not overbeat.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 60-70 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out dry.
- Cool cake in pan on wire rack for ten minutes; unmold onto second cake rack and leave until completely cool. Optional: Sprinkle cake lightly with confectioner’s sugar to serve.