Pound Cake Perfection

As many of you know I love things that can be made ahead, especially if they can go into the freezer.  I also have a love of edible gifts – let’s face it, most people would rather not have more chotchkies filling up their home, but almost everyone wants sweets!  Pound cake is the perfect marriage of the two.  You can make it days in advance or freeze it, it gifts really well, and it can be used in both breakfast preparations or for dessert.  It’s also incredibly forgiving so perfect for the novice baker.  It’s called a pound cake because it has a pound of butter (yikes), flour and sugar in it.  When dealing with this kind of volume I find it’s easier (and means less math) to use a scale to measure out my ingredients.  Baking is where you want to be pretty precise and I don’t want to DSC00026have to figure out how many cups are in a pound or lose track and add too much.  They are pretty cheap and small so won’t take up too much cabinet real estate.  I have had this version from Escali for years and love it, but there are a ton on the market.  You just want to make sure whatever one you buy has a “tare” function so you can put a bowl on the scale and then zero it out before weighing the ingredient.  Ok then, if everything is a pound then why does one need a recipe?  Well trust me there are a lot of different versions out there and not all of them are good.  I did you all a favor by trying them out and I have to say the winner comes from Martha – her “best” pound cake really is the best.  She offers up two versions even in this one recipe but I prefer the old school version to the lightened one.  Why do you want a light cake named pound??  If you wanted to mess with this at all I would recommend switching out the vanilla extract for almond or lemon to give it a different flavor.  Other than that it’s pretty perfect.  Serve it with whipped cream and berries, peaches and bourbon sauce, cut up and layered in a trifle, toasted with jam…the list goes on and on.  Best of all this recipe makes enough for two loaves so make one and freeze the other.  I made one regular 9 by 5 loaf and two small loaves to gift to neighbors.  Stay tuned for what I do with the cake from the freezer.

Pound Cake Perfection (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration: Martha’s Best Pound Cake 
Special Equipment:  a stand mixer (preferable), loaf pans, electronic scale

  • 1 pound all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon for pans
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare the pans.  Either use two 9 by 5 (standard) loaf pans or you can use 4 small loaf pans or what I did which is 1 regular and two small.  A good tip for buttering and flouring pans is to use the wrappers of the butter stick on the pans.  Enough usually is stuck to them and you don’t have to use up more butter.  After you have buttered the pans toss in the flour and knock it around till it covers all the sides, then knock the excess out over the sink.  In a small bowl combine the flour with the salt.  I really like bendy bowls for this as it’s much easier to get the dry ingredients into the stand mixer while it’s running (I got mine at Hills Kitchen but have seen them in large stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond).

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In a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar together until almost white and fluff-like on medium to high speed.  This takes a while, up to 10 minutes to get the right consistency (also where having the stand mixer comes in handy).  This is also why it’s really important that the butter be at room temperature.  The best way to ensure that your butter and eggs are at room temp is to take them out the night before and leave them out on the counter.  Don’t worry you will be just fine and your ingredients will incorporate beautifully.

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Reduce the speed to medium and add in the vanilla.  Then add the room temp eggs one at a time.  Once you have added all of the eggs turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything gets mixed in.  Start up the mixer again on low and slowly add in the flour.  Once you have started adding flour, that is the time when you can over mix so be careful here to mix just enough until all traces of the flour are gone.  If you over-mix flour the glutens develop, and the cake will be heavy and tough.  Now divide the batter to put in the pans.  I find it easiest to smooth the top of the batter with a spatula and then use it to draw lines dividing up the batter that you can then scoop into the pans.  If you wanted to get real precise then use your kitchen scale I just talked you into buying.

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Place the pans into the oven.  If you are making small loaves mine took about 50 minutes but start checking with a cake taster to see if it comes out clean at about 40 minutes.  The standard loaves take approximately an hour and 10 minutes.  Once the cake tester comes out clean let them cool on a wire rack.  You can wrap them to freeze in aluminum foil or serve right away.

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Pound Cake Perfection

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Print

Special Equipment:  best to have a stand mixer, loaf pans, electronic scale

  • 1 pound all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon for pans
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare the pans.  Butter the pans and then toss in the flour and knock it around till it covers all the sides, then knock the excess out over the sink.  In a small bowl combine the flour with the salt.  In a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar together until almost white and fluff-like on medium high speed.  This takes a while, up to 10 minutes to get the right consistency.

Reduce the speed to medium and add in the vanilla.  Then add the room temp eggs one at a time.  Once you have added all of the eggs turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything gets mixed in.  Start up the mixer again on low and slowly add in the flour.  Mix until all traces of the flour are gone.  Divide the batter into the prepared pans and place the pans into the oven.  If you are making small loaves mine took about 50 minutes but start checking with a cake taster to see if it comes out clean at about 40 minutes.  The standard loaves take approximately and hour and 10 minutes.  Once the cake tester comes out clean let them cool on a wire rack.  You can wrap them to freeze in aluminum foil or serve right away.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Gift of Food for New Parents | A Capitol Contessa

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