Old-Fashioned Pound Cake
Serves 8 to 10
The original pound cake was made with one pound each of flour, sugar, eggs and butter, plus a flavoring, such as vanilla or lemon. Through the years, the ingredients have been altered, adding leavening agents, such as baking powder or soda, in place of some of the eggs. Further changes were made in an effort to develop a lighter texture until, what I remember as my mother's pound cake, is almost nonexistent. The newer versions are very good, but I wanted something closer to the original. It was denser, more buttery and less sweet, with a dark and delicious crust, and always made in a loaf pan. After studying several different recipes, I came up with this recipe. It is adapted from a recipe I found in a Penzey's Spices catalog.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, preferably unsalted, room temperature
- 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Confectioners' (powdered) sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Sift together the flour and salt into a bowl or onto a piece of wax or parchment paper. In a large bowl of a standup mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. (You can use a hand mixer.) Gradually add the sugar and beat until very fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat for another minute.
Remove from mixer stand. Gradually add the flour/salt mixture, folding after each addition, just until blended with the batter. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. (Depending on oven, it might take longer.) Place pan on cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. If desired, use a sifter to sprinkle top with a little confectioners' sugar. Let cool completely, or eat slightly warm.
Notes: Pound cake is good as is or topped with fruit and whipped cream. It is also good sliced and lightly toasted or grilled. Do not use a smaller pan as it might overflow. Pound cakes made this way tend to crack on the top when baking. That is normal and part of the old-fashioned look. Cake can be wrapped, placed in a freezer bag and frozen for up to three months.