Farmer's Market Berries

Pound Cake

Pound Cake with Berries

OLD FASHIONED POUND CAKE

Thoughts on Pound Cake…

Pound cake, for me, is one of the best classic examples of old school Southern baking.  Although its earliest written history goes back to European roots, this cake has become classically American. Originally, just as the name suggests, pound cake recipes were simply a combination of a pound each of  four standard baking ingredients: butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Over the years the recipe has changed and evolved, some formulas include a leavening agent such as baking powder or baking soda, which will produce a less heavy and dense cake. As using cooking oils in cakes became more common, vegetable oil is sometimes seen as a  partial sub for butter,  sacrificing the flavor punch that butter adds over the addition of moisture. Some recipes sub cream cheese or sour cream in for some of the butter fat, adding a bit of tang to the flavor.

One of the great things about pound cake is that it presents a blank slate as a jumping off point for creative variations, not only in the flavor and texture of the cake but for toppings such as glazes, frostings , simple syrups soaks and ganaches.  It’s fun to use your imagination to create your own signature pound cake. 

 

Some good tips for perfecting your pound cake:

Make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature for blending smoothly without much effort.  Which brings me to the second tip, don’t be tempted to beat the batter.  A heavy hand will beat out all of the air you want to keep in to aid in rising, especially with the original recipe which includes no leaveners.  My favorite recipe is based on a very old Southern Living formula which oddly instructs you to put everything in the mixer at once, in a particular order, and then blend  for a very brief amount of time,  just 3 minutes. This was a best seller at my bakery in Dallas, Dallas Affaires Cake Company ( @dallasaffaires).

 I return over and over to this recipe, even though I have 20+ versions in my arsenal, as it most closely reflects my idea of the classic pound cake.  Sliced warm,  served at room temperature, grilled or served with fresh fruits and cream; chunked up in a layered compote or crumbled up as dry, leftover tidbits for use for a pie crust or smashing on the outside of a frosted layer cake.  So many end games!

Pound Cake

 

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3 cups sugar

Pinch of salt, optional

1 pound butter, softened

6 eggs, room temperature (always use large)

 3/4  cup milk

2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract, or extract of choice

*Variation add in’s: citrus zest, ¾ cup chocolate chips, ¾ cup sweetened coconut

 

Preheat oven to 325°

 

Place flour, sugar, salt, butter, eggs,  milk and extract ( IN THAT ORDER) in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Take care not to overmix.

 

 Pour into a generously greased Bundt pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.

 

Allow cake to cool on a rack for about 20 minutes.  Loosen edges with a knife. Turn out on serving platter.  Let cool completely before glazing.

 

*add these variations in with the dry ingredients near the bottom of the bowl, just after sugar and salt if using.

 

Simple Glaze

 

1 cup well sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons (more or less as desired)  liquid such as milk, cream, half and half or a liqueur such as Kahlua, Baileys or Amaretto; citrus juice, coffee

1 teaspoon extract of choice

optional: citrus zest

 

Blend together until smooth and desired consistency is reached.

 

Italian Cream

 1/4 cup butter, softened (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 cups well sifted powdered sugar

1 teaspoon extract of choice

2 tablespoons (more or less as desired)  liquid such as milk, cream, half and half or a liqueur such as Kahlua, Baileys or Amaretto; citrus juice, coffee

Optional: citrus zest

 In a mixer bowl beat butter and cream cheese until soft and well combined.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth.  Add extract and mix to blend.  Add liquid until smooth and desired consistency is reached.

 

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup cream

8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate,  chips or cut into chunks

 Warm cream in a small saucepan until it just barely starts to simmer.   Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Strain if necessary, for a super smooth finish.

 For glazing, use while warm.  Can be gently rewarmed stove top or in the microwave.  For frosting, chill until desired consistency is reached.  For truffles, chill until solid.

 

Optional additions:

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon or Baker’s Sprinkles

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon instant espresso

 For tea steeped Ganache, add 1 or more tea bags to cream before adding chocolate.  Earl Grey, Orange, Lemon, Ginger, Pomegranate, Peppermint, Chai, Raspberry—endless options.