I’ve never been one for pound cake. I just didn’t see the appeal. It is just an ordinary, dense, loaf cake that is notoriously bad for you- right? Well, at least that’s what I used to think when my world of pound cake didn’t extend past Sara Lee. Now that I can bake up my own at a moments whim, I am not one to shoot it down.
Until now the only pound cakes I have ever made have been in bundt pans and all of them were flavors other than your basic vanilla. So this recipe was new to me on two accounts. Since I’m usually not capable of finishing a baked good before it goes bad, the smaller loaf size suited me well. And the vanilla flavor? Pretty sure it’s become my new favorite type of pound cake. It’s the perfect flavor- not too overwhelming. Truly a fantastic balance between butter and vanilla, because after all, that’s what you really want out of a pound cake- to taste the BUTTER. Oh it’s so good! Plain, vanilla pound cake is really the best choice to emphasize the butter flavor.
Traditionally pound cake contains 1 lb of butter, 1 lb of sugar, 1 lb of flour, and 1 lb of eggs (thus the name). Kind of crazy right? Well, now a days that usually doesn’t hold true. But modern recipes still strive for the classic texture and taste- a dense, moist crumb that screams butter! Ugh, I LOVE it.
There were a few recipes that I was considering for this, but Dorie Greenspan’s stuck out to me. Not only does she call this recipe “Perfection Pound Cake”, but she gives “Pound Cake Pointers” before hand. It’s very informative, dictating exactly how pound cake recipes should be executed for the best results. Here’s a summary of the rules:
- All ingredients MUST be at room temperature!
- Leave the butter out for only about an hour. It should be soft enough to allow for a finger indentation when pressed, but not collapse under the touch.
- Do NOT skimp on the beating time- the butter and sugar need at least a 5 minute beat.
- Eggs should be added one at a time, beating 2 minutes and scraping down the bowl in between each addition.
- Flour should be mixed lightly, just until combined.
- It’s recommended to put the loaf pan on an insulated baking sheet in the oven. This helps reduce over-baking the bottom since the baking time is so long.
Unfortunately I didn’t follow her last rule and ended up over-baking mine : ( It was a tad dry, but I know that was my error, not the recipes. Personally I think the sign of a great recipe is when you know you’ve messed something up and it still tastes wonderful… and this one certainly did!
- 2 cups all purpose flour (or 2¼ cups cake flour)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9″ x 5″ or 8½” x 4½” loaf pan. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or two, stacked regular baking sheets.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on med-high speed for at least 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed for two minutes and scarping down the bowl in between each. Mix in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth out the top.
- Put the cake into the oven and check on it after 45 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly, cover it with tin foil. 9″x5″ loaves bake about 70-75 minutes, and 8½” x 4½” loaves bake about 90 minutes. When completely baked a thin knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes on a wire rack before running a knife along the edge and removing to cool completely.
adapted from “Baking From my Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan