Originally made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, creative cooks have, over time, come up with countless variations, such as replacing a portion of the butter with cream cheese or a few of the eggs with sour cream and leavening. The most extraordinary thing about these pound cakes is how easy they are to prepare. You can bake them days ahead of time and store them in the pantry, or place them in large zip-top freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to two months. Here are 8 tips for the perfect pound cake: 1. Prepare before you start. Carefully read through the entire recipe, and prepare any special ingredients, such as chopped fruits or toasted nuts, before starting to mix the batter. Pre-measure your ingredients and assemble them in the order listed. That way, if interrupted, you are less likely to make a mistake. 2. Use name-brand ingredients. Store brands of sugar are often more finely ground than name brands, yielding more sugar per cup, which can cause the cake to fall. Store brands of butter may contain more liquid fat or flours more hard wheat, making the cake heavy. 3. Be accurate. Measure your ingredients carefully. Extra sugar or leavening causes a cake to fall; extra flour makes it dry. Also, use an oven thermometer to check your oven’s temperature for accuracy. 4. Have ingredients at room temperature. This results in a pound cake with maximum volume. 5. Be patient. Beat softened butter (and cream cheese or shortening) at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. This can take from 1 to 7 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy. These steps are so important because they whip air into the cake batter so it will rise during baking. When baking, place the cake pan in the center of the oven, and keep the door closed until the minimum baking time has elapsed. If the cake requires more baking, gently close the oven door as soon as possible after testing to prevent jarring and loss of heat—both can cause a cake to fall if it’s not completely done. 6. Don’t overbeat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears. Overbeating the eggs may cause the batter to overflow the sides of the pan when baked or create a fragile crust that crumbles and separates from the cake as it cools. 7. Prep your cake pan. Grease cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, and always dust with flour. 8. Test for doneness. Insert a long wooden pick into the center of the cake. It should come out clean, with no batter clinging to it. – this information was adapted from Southern Living author Ashley Leach. I have provided two of my favorite basic pound cake recipes for you this week! I personally like to add almond extract to my pound cakes, but vanilla extract is always a safe bet! Bake away, and enjoy, readers!
Mississippi Pound Cake
Note: This is a relatively simple pound cake to prepare, but oh, it’s so good and fresh! It is best served warm with a smear of butter and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Or you can serve it warm with some vanilla ice cream! Yummy!
3 cups sugar
2 sticks real butter
6 large eggs
8 oz. whipping cream
3 cups sifted Swann’s Down cake flour
1 tsp. vanilla
Put in cold oven. Pound cake is best if cold ingredients are at room temperature. Mix sugar, butter, and one egg at a time. Beat very well. Stir in vanilla, cream and flour. Pour in greased and floured pound cake pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Let rest after taking out of oven, and invert onto cake plate.
Elvis Presley’s Pound Cake
Note: This was Elvis Presley’s favorite pound cake. He loved pound cakes for dessert and for a sweet snack. The secret to this pound cake is beating the batter an extra 5 minutes.
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted cake flour
Three fourths tsp. salt
3 cups sugar
7 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
All cold ingredients should be at room temperature before starting. Put oven rack in middle position, but do not preheat oven. Grease and flour pound cake pan. Sift together sifted flour and salt into a bowl. Repeat sifting into another bowl (flour will have been sifted 3 times total).
Beat together butter and sugar at med-high speed 6 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl, then beat at med-high speed 5 min. Spoon batter into pan. Place pan in cold oven and turn oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 1 hour 15 min. Cool cake 30 minutes. Invert cake onto cake plate.
Editor’s note: Brock Wetherly Rogers, an experienced Southern food writer, overseas traveler, educator, and passionate student of the culinary & pastry arts, resides in Louisville. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook.