Pound cakes have been around since the 1700s, originating in England, and since that time many changes have been made to the original dense cake in an effort to lighten it up a bit. However, today is National Pound Cake Day and some respect must be paid to the original pound cake and why it was named as such.
A real pound cake uses a pound of each – butter, sugar, flour and eggs – to make a rich, dense, buttery cake that lends itself well to added flavorings, such as vanilla or brandy. There is no baking powder or soda in a real pound cake, nor is there any milk or other liquid. When these ingredients are added, the number of eggs used can be reduced but it does change the density and texture of a real pound cake to add them.
We, of course, think all pound cakes are delicious and well worth making, however, in honor of National Pound Cake Day, we are sticking to the one that started it all: The Pound Cake. And what’s great about this simple, original recipe is that most of us have the ingredients on hand in our kitchens and can throw together a pound cake just about any time for any reason.
Note: in place of vanilla extract, get creative with the flavoring you add to your pound cake. Extracts come in a wide variety of flavorings – lemon, almond, orange, raspberry, coconut, etc. – many of which are available at your local Safeway, Lucky and Zanotto’s markets. But to stretch your imagination for extract flavors, check out Barbara of Pauline’s Cake Supplies for something different such as root beer, pineapple, butter pecan, mango, black walnut, amaretto or just about any flavor you can think of.
1 pound butter (2 cups or 4 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 pound sugar (2 & 1/4 cups)
1 pound eggs (9 large eggs)
1 pound cake flour (3 & 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons flavoring, such as vanilla extract or any other flavoring you choose
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Line 3 loaf pans with wax paper.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter on high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add the sugar gradually, beating continuously, until it is well incorporated and texture is light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, two at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add flour gradually, beating well after each addition until mixture is smooth.
- Add flavoring and beat until just incorporated.
- Spoon mixture evenly into the 3 prepared loaf pans, leveling out the tops gently with a spatula.
- Bake in pre-heated oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes until tops are lightly golden and wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes in pan. Then invert each onto a flat surface, carefully peel away wax paper and set each loaf upright on serving platter.
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