M: Ah, pound cake. Its name comes from the simple measurements required to produce the traditional white cake. That is, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour and a pound of eggs. That’s pretty straightforward, right? But over the years the basics have drifted. A tweak here and there to make a lighter cake, a moister cake, a more sophisticated flavor palate. Pound cake is no longer a standard measure of cake. And that is a shame.
Ok, so I like some of the variations. But the classic pound cake we find here is exactly what I want when pound cake is what I want. It works for pert near every occasion. Wrapped in waxed paper and stuffed in a lunchbox or topped with a delicate compote and served on fine china, it works. It is what you want on hand when the neighbors drop by for coffee or your hand churned ice cream needs a companion. It is not the sweetest cake. It is not the most moist. What it is is reliable. Consistent.
It isn’t tough to make or to get just right. Dress it up and folks will feel you’ve taken the time to do something special for them. On its own, it is the unassuming hallmark of the ever-prepared host.
So add variations if you are so inclined. Chocolate, fruit, sour cream… “pound cake” has become all things to all people. I don’t have a problem with any of that. But the humble, unadulterated classic is always going to feel like home.
Recipe: Classic Pound Cake
Summary: Elegant in its simplicity, the classic pound cake is welcome on any table, no matter who has come a-calling. The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
- 1 Lb (4 sticks) Butter
- 1 Lb (about 2 c) Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 8 Eggs (about a pound)
- 1 Lb (about 3 1/2 c) Flour
- 1/2 c Heavy Cream
- 1 T Vanilla Extract
- Cream butter in a medium bowl.
- Beat in sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, alternating with flour until fully incorporated.
- Stir in cream and vanilla.
- Scrape into a greased and floured tube pan or two loaf pans.
- Bake at 325 degrees until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (1 1/2 to 2 hours). Do not open door for first 75 minutes.
- Cool in pan 15 minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.
Originally: Classic Pound Cake