Technically, this is half-a-pound cake, since it only uses about a half-a-pound of each of the key ingredients.
(Pound cake gets its name from the pound each of butter, sugar, and flour originally used to make it.)
However you slice it, though, this cake is moist, dense, rich, and buttery. I prefer mine plain with a cup or two of strong coffee.
Pound cake is a great blank canvas for dessert. You can dress it up or down. Here are a few ideas for serving a slice.
Six ways to serve pound cake
+Soak it in a few tablespoons of amaretto (this is The Angry Chef’s favorite way to enjoy pound cake)
+Fry a slice in butter ’til golden brown, then top with a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream
+Top with seasonal berries and fresh whipped cream
+Serve with sliced, caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce for a pound cake sundae
+Stick a popsicle stick in hunks of cake, dip them in melted chocolate, then freeze for a few hours
+Toast lightly and spread with think slices of cold butter and spoonfuls of your favorite jam
Technique for making old-fashioned pound cake
You can make this cake by hand, but there’s a LOT of beating involved, so if you have a hand-held or stand mixer, I’d recommend using it.
A note on equipment for making old-fashioned pound cake
I use a regular old one-pound loaf pan to bake my pound cake. It’s 9″ long x 5″ wide x 3″ deep. I’ve had this pan from Chicago Metallic for years. I love their pans because they’re heavy, sturdy, and cook evenly. When I can’t find what I’m looking for at a restaurant supply shop, this is the brand I keep coming back to.
A quick explanation about American sticks of butter
A few of our readers who live outside the states have asked me to clarify how American butter is typically measured (most recently on my Flourless Chocolate Brownies). Here’s a visual explanation for you.
Butter generally comes in a one-pound box (in a choice of salted or unsalted). It’s divided into 4 individually wrapped 4-ounce sticks, like this:
The wrapper for each stick is marked with tablespoon measurements, so you can quickly cut off how much you need.
Take a peek here for a few handy tools to help with quick conversions.
OK, to the cake!
Old-Fashioned Pound Cake
16 Tbls. butter (that’s 2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbls. lemon juice (this is about one good squeeze of half a lemon)
4 large eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Grease a loaf pan (9″ long x 5″ wide x 3″ deep) lightly. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Cream the butter & sugar together
Leave the butter out on the counter for about 30 minutes or so to soften it up. If you need to cheat, you can try zapping it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
When it’s soft, put it in the bowl of your mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand-held mixer). Fit the mixer with its paddle attachment.
Beat the butter on medium-high for about 1 minute.
You want it to look about like this:
Add the sugar to the butter in the bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes.
Your goal is to combine them, then whip a lot of air into the mixture to make the batter fluffy.
You want the mixture to look about like this (note that it’s increased in volume and is much paler):
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then give it a quick mix again to combine any loose sugar from the edges.
There’s a lot of bowl scraping in this recipe. I’ve seen this thing, which looks like would eliminate that. Anyone have one? Half of me thinks it would be amazingly handy, the other half thinks it might be annoying.
Add the eggs to the butter & sugar
Crack the eggs into a measuring cup or bowl. Fish out any little bits of shell if you see any. (They’re easier to get out of a bowl, then the mixing bowl with your batter.)
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture.
Beat on low ’til the eggs are combined with the butter and sugar (to avoid splashing).
When the eggs are fairly mixed in, raise the speed to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes.
Add a squeeze of lemon and mix to incorporate it. This recipe doesn’t call for it, but you can add 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract here if you like.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Note: You can mix the batter as much as you like up until this point. Once you add the flour, you want to mix the batter ONLY until the ingredients are incorporatedï¿½and not more.
Add the dry ingredients
In a measuring cup or bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
Whisk together quickly with a fork or whisk to evenly distribute the baking powder in the flour.
Add the flour mixture to your mixing bowl.
Mix on medium until the flour is incorporated and just comes together to form a batter. Stop when it does. Don’t overmix it. You want it to look about like this:
Your batter will be really stiff.
Remove the beater, scrape the batter off it and into your bowl. With a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold the batter over a few times to incorporate any loose flour from the edges.
Be sure to scrape and fold all the way from the bottom of the bowl, to get any butter/sugar mixture that the beater might have missed.
Bake your pound cake
Pour your batter out into your prepared loaf pan.
With your spatula, smooth the dough down so that the surface is relatively flat and it fills the pan.
Pop the pan into your preheated, 300-degree oven. Bake for 80-95 minutes.
How do you know when the cake is done?
Bake the cake until the top is golden and the edges are *just* starting to brown a tiny bit, like this:
The crust should be fairly firm and the center may have a crack or two.
If you insert a toothpick near the center of the cake, it should come out clean (not covered in gooey batter).
Remove the cake from the pan
When the cake is done, yank it out of the oven. Let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully turn it out of the pan.
Put an oven mitt or pot holder on each hand. Hold the pan firmly in one hand. Put your other hand on top of the cake.
Tip the pan over so the top of the cake is resting on your hand, and give the pan a little shake. The cake should slide right out into your hand.
Place it right-side up on a rack to cool.
Cool the cake completely before slicing and serving.
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Copyright 2008-2009 The Hungry Mouseï¿½/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.