My favorite pound cake
If I had to pick a favorite food it would be cake. There are so many variations: butter cakes, sponge cakes, chiffon cakes. But one of my all time favorite cakes is the pound cake. It is typically less sweet than most American cakes and is incredibly versatile. Add lemon zest to the batter and top with a lemon glaze for a lemon pound cake or swap some of the flour with cocoa powder to make a chocolate pound cake. I better stop before I get carried away (on a light fluffy cloud of sponge…mmm… anyway…) My favorite way to eat this particular pound cake loaf is with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. It is so refreshing on a warm summer’s day.
The poind cake was originally named because it used a pound of butter, a pound of eggs, a pound of sugar, and a pound of flour. This created a whopping four pound cake at the end! Now a four pound cake might seem like a dream come true, but the original pound cake is dense and has a flat flavor.
In my version, I keep the original ratio of 1:1:1:1, butter, eggs, sugar, and flour. But tweak the ingredients ever so slightly. Instead of using just all-purpose flour which would lead to a dense cake, we lighten it by adding half cake flour. Cake flour has less protein than all-purpose flour which helps to develop a lighter crumb. Then I changed the number of eggs. Rather than using whole eggs, I reach the necessary weight by adding extra egg yolks. The extra egg yolks add a slight vanilla flavor to the mix. I also add salt to help give the cake a richer flavor, baking powder to ensure the cake rises, and vanilla to add, well, vanilla flavor.
A couple of things to note when making this recipe
What to do with leftover egg whites…
When separating eggs, it’s a good idea to work with 3 bowls, two medium and one small. Wash the bowls with hot soapy water and dry them with a clean dish towel. When you separate the eggs, place the egg white into the clean small bowl and the yolk into one of the medium bowls. When you are sure you haven’t gotten any yolk into the white, transfer it to the other medium size bowl. Continue this process until you have separated all of your eggs.
Once the eggs have been separated, cover the bowl of the whites with plastic wrap and put them into your freezer to use later. They are great for making meringue based desserts.
Why weigh ingredients?
There are so many variables when baking, measuring by weight takes out some of the guesswork. Volume measurements can lead to inaccurate measurements, especially when it comes to dry ingredients. As an example, depending on how you measure flour, whether you scoop directly from the container or spoon fill the measuring cup, can drastically change the amount you are using. So much that you could end up with 196 grams if you spoon the amount into the measuring cup or 250 grams if you scope. When you weigh, 230 grams will always be 230 grams. Which brings us to…
How to measure using volume
This recipe has been calculated using the scooping method. Instead of sticking your measuring cup into the container and filling it, use a large spoon to gather dry ingredients from its container and pouring it into the measuring cup.
What do I do if my mixture curdles?
When you are adding the eggs to the butter, you are trying to create an emulsion. Butter and eggs don’t want to be friends so we have to help them get along. You do this by slowly adding the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar. By slowly adding the eggs, you give the butter time to accept the eggs and create a bond. If you add them all at once, you will overwhelm the mix and make it incredibly difficult for the butter and eggs to get along. This can make the mixture look curdled.
The other possibility is that either the eggs or butter were too cold. If you start to pour the eggs into the butter and it refuses to emulsify, try waiting 5-10 minutes for the eggs and butter to warm up and mix again.
Even if you mixture curdles and you can’t get the eggs and butter to emulsify, don’t panic! The worst thing that is going to happen is you will end up with a denser cake at the end of baking. It will still taste great! So, keep going and fold in your flour.
How to make different size cakes
Enough to make:
2 – 2-in x 9-in cake rounds,
2 – 3-in x 8-in cake rounds, or
1 – 4-in x 9-in loaf pan
9-inch cake rounds: 20-25 minutes
8-inch cake rounds: 25-30 minutes
4-inch loaf pan: 55-65 minutes
- 1 – 9-inch loaf tin
- Parchment Paper
- 3-medium mixing bowls
- Fine mesh sieve or whisk
- Stand or hand mixer
- Measuring cups and spoons or a scale (see recipe for specific sizes)
- Wire cooling rack
- Optional: Off-set spatula
- 130 grams egg whites approximately 4 large egg whites, room temp, 65-68° F
- 134 grams egg yolks approximately 8 large egg yolks, room temp 65-68° F
- 130 grams (1 cup) cake flour
- 130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 260 grams (18 ½ tablespoons) unsalted butter approximately 3 sticks, at room temp, 63-65° F
- 260 grams (1 ⅓ cup) granulated sugar
- 50 milliliters (3 ½ tablespoon) heavy whipping cream at room temp, 65-68° F
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Separate egg yolks and whites into two separate medium sized bowls and then add the remaining 4 whole eggs to the egg yolks. Whisk gently to combine. Set aside whole egg and yolk mixture to come up to room temp., approximately 30-45 minutes. In a medium bowl sift together cake and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. If you don’t have a sieve, whisk ingredients together to get rid of lumps.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 4-inch x 9-inch loaf tin with butter and line the pan with a parchment paper sling.
Start after eggs have reached 65° F
- Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position and preheat your oven to 350° F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, start mixing the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute until smooth. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes (mixture will be almost white when it is done). Make sure to scrape down sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is incorporated evenly.
- Reduce the mixer to medium-low, add about 2 tablespoon of the whisked eggs to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated (15-30 seconds). Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue adding the eggs, 2 tablespoon at a time, and mixing thoroughly after each addition until all eggs have been incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.
- Reduce mixer to low, add the heavy cream and vanilla extract to the mixture until fully incorporated.
- Turn off the mixer and remove bowl from stand mixer (if usinand pour in the flour mixture. Fold flour into butter mixture with a spatula until you no longer see any flour. Batter will be thick and creamy.
- Pour into prepared baking tin, level batter with a spatula or off-set spatula before cake goes in the oven. Bake at 350° F for 55-65 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs and the cake is light golden brown and has started to pull away from the sides of the pan. You can also check doneness by lightly touching the top of the cake, if it springs back the cake is done.
- Let cool in tin for about 5 minutes then remove cakes from tin and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Dust tops of cake with super-fine bakers sugar (caster sugaand serve with fresh or macerated berries or create a Victoria Sandwich Cake.