The elusive Pound Cake

The traditional pound cake is dense yet moist and buttery, and it can be a difficult dessert to perfect. What makes it so elusive? It is simple in ingredients and preparation, but achieving the perfect consistency and flavor can be tricky. Some bakers only use cake flour in order to create a tender cake, and there are varied thoughts concerning the ratio of the main ingredients. Adding fresh berries and whipped cream is a great way to enjoy a slice of pound cake, but you can also grill buttered slices and sprinkle with powdered sugar, or make French toast with the sliced pieces and serve with warm syrup. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can certainly use a hand mixer with any recipe but may need to increase the mixing time just a little. Grab that tube pan and begin the journey to finding the pound cake recipe that will make you famous.

Cream Cheese

Pound Cake

• 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

• 3 cups sugar

• 6 large eggs

• 3 cups sifted cake flour (I use Swans Down)

• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously coat a 10-inch tube pan with a spray with flour in it (Baker’s Joy). Beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and beat until just blended. Add flour and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds. Stir in vanilla.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 1 hour and 45 minutes, until wooden pick in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely. (To freeze pound cake, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. Store in freezer bag and freeze. Thaw completely in wrapping before serving.)

Buttermilk Pound Cake

• 1 1/3 cups butter, softened

• 2 ½ cups sugar

• 6 large eggs

• 3 cups all-purpose flour (level with a butter knife)

• ½ cup buttermilk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each one.

Add flour to butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat at low until blended. Stir in vanilla.

Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack and cool for 1 hour. Serve with warm custard sauce.

Sauce

• 2 cups buttermilk

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

• 3 egg yolks

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk together buttermilk, sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

Whipping Cream

Pound Cake

• 6 eggs, separated

• 3 cups sugar, divided

• 1 cup butter, softened

• 3 cups cake flour, sifted

• 1 cup whipping cream

• 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. lemon juice

Beat egg whites with ¾ cup sugar, set aside. Cream together remaining 2 ¼ cups sugar and butter. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well. Add flour, alternating with whipping cream. Add vanilla and juice. Fold in egg white mixture. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Place in a cold oven, and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes.

Pound Cake Variation: Add 1 tsp. almond extract to batter. When slightly cooled, glaze cake with ½ cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup water, and ½ teaspoon almond extract. Whisk all ingredients together and pour over cake.

— Amy Fischer has worked as an educator and librarian in the Fort Payne City School system the last 27 years. She loves to cook, plan menus and host large family dinners or small luncheons for friends. Her column, Set the Table, appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday editions.

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