Pound cake is a delectable treat that pairs well with many different toppings- Of course, whipped cream, fresh fruit, drizzles of chocolate or sugar glazes. Try it soaked in liqueurs like rum or orange, and pound cake becomes lavish. Top it with Lemon Curd and it’s rich and beautiful. But no matter what you put on top or even if you prefer pound cake naked, a perfect pound cake is sweet and moist but firm. Otherwise, it’s just bread.
If you follow a few hard and fast rules, the perfect pound cake recipe is easy and foolproof every time, and there are some basic steps you shouldn’t skip when making pound cake. None of these are difficult, but I think we’ve all seen recommendations in recipes and thought “I’m not bothering with that. Everything will turn out fine”. Don’t skip these easy but important tips:
- Don’t scoop your dry ingredients, be sure to sift them. This ensures the flour won’t be packed too densely, plus gets rid of clumps.
- Bring your eggs, butter and in this recipe, sour cream to room temperature. If the eggs are too cold, they’ll sieze in the batter and it won’t be fluffy. These ingredients will perform much better in the creaming and baking process if they start out at room temperature.
- Thoroughly cream the butter and sugar mixture, and I mean thoroughly. You’ll need to let your mixer go for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is almost white. And yes, you need to use real butter. The combination of the granulated sugar and the butter will create air pockets that you need for pound cake.
- Don’t overmix when adding your dry ingredients. You’ll stop the mixer in between some steps rather than letting it keep going and when first adding your flour, you’ll just mix until white flour streaks are still visible. Overmixing will cause the batter to deflate, resulting in a tough cake.
- Don’t overbake the cake. Pound cake should bake for about an hour, but don’t be shy and feel free to test it once you can really smell the cake. And the top will crack and that’s okay. A cracked top is a good sign that the batter was airy.
There you have it. The recipe below is a perfect cake to serve immediately, but it holds up well in an airtight wrap and can even be sent in the mail because the cake is delicious for up to a week.
I showcase it for you today with very little toppings, not even powdered sugar. Because the perfect pound cake is one of those recipes that is just yummy all by itself, but feel free to doll it up however you like.
If you’re serving a fondue, this recipe cuts up nicely into cubes for dunking in your decadent chocolate lava or spearing under a flowing fountain of goodness.
And I mentioned my recipe for Lemon Curd earlier. To make this option over-the-top delicious, cut the pound cake into thick slices and griddle it in butter before adding the topping. Here’s how: In a heavy bottomed skillet, melt some butter, then add the pound cake, turning after the edges become crispy. This option is unique and so good.
You really can’t go wrong with how you serve this pound cake. I prefer it all by itself. Because it IS perfect.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon rum extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Lightly butter a 10-cup Bundt or tube pan or spray with non-stick baking spray.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl, then measure 3 cups sifted flour back into the sifter. Return any remaining flour to your flour container. Add the baking soda and salt to the sifter and sift into a clean bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes (This will NOT be creamy). Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the speed on medium, add the eggs one at a time, completely incorporating each egg before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the bowl.
- Take the bowl out of the mix stand and using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour in, in thirds, just folding until flour still streaks through the batter, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl and add the extracts, one at a time, still folding with the spatula, until combined between each addition.
- Place the mixer bowl back in your stand and mix on medium speed until the batter is shiny, about 3 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold onto the rack. Let the cake cool completely before cutting.
- Serve immediately as is, or with these suggestions from simple to fancy: Powdered sugar, whipped cream and fresh in-season fruits, powdered sugar glaze, soak each piece in your favorite liqueur, and crazy as this sounds, pound cake is amazing when griddled.
- Cake can be kept fresh up to one week in air-tight container.
Recipe adapted from Cooking with Love with Carla Hall.