What is Pound Cake?
Pound Cake is white, dense, and is perhaps one of the most simplest and well-known cakes. Although traditionally it is plain, it is easy to find many flavored, lighter varieties today.
A pound cake is usually baked in loaf form or in a Bundt pan. The simplicity and density of the cake makes it a popular sidekick with fruit or whipped cream. A shortened cake, it has tight grain and elastic crumb.1 Pound cake is often flavored with citrus fruits or vanilla. Sour cream is another new addition to the recipe. It can be topped with a light icing, glaze or dusted with powdered sugar. However, it is rarely heavily frosted.
The pound cake was named after its recipe. Created in England during the 1700s, original recipes called for one pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. The large quantities and no leveling made it a large, heavy cake that could easily feed big groups of people. Proportions were altered over time to make a smaller, lighter cake, but the name stuck. In the mid 1800s liquids were added and later baking powder in the 1900s.
The cake is popular all over the world, with many countries adding their own twist and variations. There is the British sponge cake with self-rising flour. In the Caribbean, rum or mashed bananas are often added to increase moisture or beaten egg whites are used to create a lighter cake. In South America, walnuts or raisins are sometimes put in, or in Spain the cake will be drenched in wine and covered with a cream or sugar coating.
When making pound cake, it is important to get all the ingredients at room temperature before mixing. First, blend together the butter and sugar. For best results, beat at a medium speed and then carefully fold in the eggs and any other added liquids. This whips air into the batter, helping the cake rise. The mixing of sugar and butter also helps create air pockets.
However, do not over beat, especially when adding the flour and eggs. It will make the crust more fragile and cause the cake to become dense and tough. With the recipe already creating a dense cake, you do not want to over do it.
A pound cake can be used to test shortening or margarine creaming levels, by baking the cake without the chemical leavener and then measuring the volume, grain, and texture. This will reveal creaming range and shortening temperature tolerance.2
If adding flavors to a pound cake, do not add more than 2 tablespoons of liquid—which also causes the cake to become too dense. Pound cake calls for a long baking time, usually over an hour.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. almond
- 1 tsp. lemon flavoring
- 5 eggs
- Mix all ingredient and spoon into greased and floured loaf pan.
- Bake at 350°F for about 1 hour.
- It is done baking when you stick a skewer into the center and it comes out clean.
- Cool on a baking rack.
- Sieve icing sugar over it before serving.
Recipe source: Cooks.com
1. Manay, N. Shakuntala., and M. Shadaksharaswamy. Foods: Facts and Principles. New Delhi: New Age International, 1995. Print.
2. O’Brien, Richard D. Fats and Oils: Formulating and Processing for Applications. Boca Raton: CRC, 2009. Print.