Perfect Pound Cake

Yum

Perfect Pound Cake

Do you know how pound cake got its name?  No, it’s not because you gain a pound by eating a slice.  Although, I think there is some wicked irony in place, there (Evil glare at the bathroom scale).

No, it got its name because the original “pound” cake called for a pound of butter, a pound of flour, and a pound of sugar, as the main ingredients.  It was a quick and easy recipe that yielded a HUMONGOUS cake.  These were the days when people visited randomly because there was no television and nothing better to do than be friendly and engaging to others, unlike today, and everyone had cake and coffee ready at a moment’s notice. This was also when all women had red fingernails and made meatloaf and mashed potatoes for supper every night.  I am basing my beliefs on “Leave it to Beaver” reruns.  But you get the picture.  This cake was designed for sharing.

Pound cakes have come a long way, since then.  We no longer buy butter “by the pound,” at the local mom and pop grocery store, or bake up ginormous slabs of buttery bricks to serve to friends and family who have nothing better to do than come over to see how the lawn looks from our side of the street.  And yet, the pound cake remains a classic for its moist, buttery interior and its amazingly delicious and tender crumb.  (Say the word “crumb” with a straight face. I dare you.  Look at yourself in the mirror and say “crumb.”  And try not to laugh.  “You, you . . . CRUMB, you!”)  Also, the more you look at the word “crumb,” the weirder it looks.  Your mind is playing tricks on you . . . is that how it’s spelled?  Wait a second.  “CRUMB” doesn’t look right.  Ahhh!!!!!

I have tweaked this cake, quite a bit, for my own tastes.  I don’t need a giant 10 cup bundt cake, so I have skimmed this cake down to fit a small bundt pan– a 6 cup model.  You can also make this in a 13×9 pan, if you don’t have a bundt.  Now there’s another weird word . . . “bundt.”  But I digress.  This little beauty is great because it makes a normal sized cake, and it is super moist and delish.  It can be served, plain, or glazed, or served with whipped cream and fresh fruit.  You can use the leftovers to make a trifle.  Goodness.  Perfection, anyone?  And if a friend just happens to stop by, well . . . let’s give this outdated neighborly thing a try, eh?

What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!

Perfect Pound Cake

(adapted from Southern Living)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 oz. (1/2 box) cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese, and white sugar, together, until the mixture is a smooth dough, with no lumps.  Beat in the eggs, mixing the dough after each egg is added.  Add in heavy cream, vanilla, almond, salt, and baking powder; mix well.  Add in flour and mix until combined.  Pour into a well greased, 6 cup bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until cake is golden brown and passes the “clean toothpick” test.  Cool completely before removing from pan.

Now, in pictures! 🙂

1

To start with, chant this mantra with me:  “Cold ingredients are the enemy of good cookies.”  I know, this is technically a cake. But this saying is always banging around in my head.  Cold ingredients are shivering and afraid.  They don’t want to come out and make something beautiful. They want to hide and get warm.  So let your butter, cream cheese, and eggs sit out on your kitchen counter for about 1/2 hour before you bake this.  That way, everyone is nice and warmed up and ready to go.  Do YOU like to work when you’re freezing and huddled in your coat?  Nope.  Ingredients in cakes and cookies are the same way. They will be much more fun to work with when they’re at room temperature.

Cream the butter, cream cheese, shortening, and sugar together, slowly, until your mixture kind of comes together in a nice, soft dough.  It won’t be “creamed,” in the traditional sense, but it will smoosh everything together nicely into a velvety paste, with no lumps.

Maybe I should cream myself to get rid of the lumps. ha.

2

Now, add your eggs (which are also at room temperature), one at a time, beating after each one.  Make sure you scrape the bowl, too, after each addition.  We want to make sure that everything gets well mixed.

When all the little eggies are added, go ahead and mix in the baking powder, salt, vanilla, almond, and heavy cream.  We don’t want to whip the life out of this (or your cream will do strange things– trust me), but mix it in nicely.

3

Add in your flour and mix well. Scrape your bowl to make sure you get all the flour.  I hate it when there’s a little “milk mustache” looking thing on the bowl, from the flour.  Eeeew.  Mix it in.

Get your oven heated up to a toasty 350 degrees.  Really grease up your bundt pan and flour it.  Pam spray will work, but butter and flour work better for little nooks and crannies.  Remember that we are using a smaller, 6 cup bundt pan, instead of the classic 10 cup one that you probably used for angel food cake.  Put the cake into the oven and prepare to hear the doorbell ringing for no reason as neighbors drift, subconsciously, over to your house to find out what that mouth-watering smell is.

4

Every oven is a little different– my cake took about 45-50 minutes to become a gorgeous golden brown.  When it’s done, the cake will spring back lightly when you press on the top, and a toothpick inserted into the center of it will come out clean. This cake is so moist that you may see a few crumbs on your toothpick, but that’s OK– just no raw batter.  Crumbs.  Hehe.

Allow the cake to cool, completely, before you remove it from the pan. Bundts can be tricky to loosen– try running a knife along the sides of the cake, first, before you invert it. Don’t forget to loosen that middle core part, too– the cake loves to stick there more tightly than an IRS man on tax day.  Go slowly and be careful so you don’t break it.  So you don’t break the cake, that is . . . not the IRS man.

5

If you want to make a simple glaze to drizzle on top, mix 1/2 cup  powdered sugar, a tsp. or so of vanilla, and 1-2 tsp. milk until you have a nice, thick sugar glaze.  Drizzle it over the top and sides of the cake.  Of course, it’s fine plain, too . . . but all work and no play makes this plain Jane a dull girl. Er . . . cake.

Pound Cake 2

Now THAT is a pretty cake.  Goodness.  This little girl is so pretty, you almost want to ask for her number.  Well . . . if cakes had phones.  Well, if cakes had phones and gave out phone numbers.

Never mind.  This analogy is getting weirder and weirder.

cake 3

But you get the idea.

cake 5

Drizzle that golden brown beauty under the glaze, then layer slices of perfectly moist, buttery pound cake under a topping of freshly whipped cream and loads of fresh berries.  Boy– nothing says “Summer” like a buttery dessert loaded up with colorful berries and whipped cream.

cake 4

And since there’s fruit in it, we can technically call it healthy.  And healthy things are always good.

Especially when they come with seconds 😀

You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.


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