Pound cake is the best, no matter what’s in (or on) it
By Kara Kimbrough
Every now and then I run across one of those surveys that challenges you to list the contents of your “last meal on earth.” Invariably, pasta, shrimp, garlic bread and a loaded green salad with Comeback dressing are on the list. I’m not a huge sweets lover, but when pressed, pound cake is on the list. My love of pound cake goes back to childhood, as do most people’s favorite dishes.
Thumbing through a family cookbook I compiled a few years ago, I found three recipes for pound cake. One was an aunt’s sour cream pound cake recipe, another was a cream cheese pound cake recipe written in my teenage handwriting (although I have no memory of making it back then) and last, my grandmother’s contribution, simply entitled “Pound Cake.” I would share the recipe but it’s going to take a while to decipher the ingredients due to the age of the handwritten recipe and the obvious hurry she was in when she jotted it down.
The two pound cakes I most often make are five flavors and whipping cream varieties. A favorite story is the time I included the five flavors pound cake recipe in a column. A few weeks later, I received an email from the daughter of the lady who had fallen ill and was hospitalized in a coma. Upon awakening, the first thing she asked her daughter was, “Did you find that recipe for five flavors pound cake?”
Turns out, the dear lady had misplaced her newspaper and had been worrying about it before going to the hospital. I was more than happy to provide the daughter with a recipe to pass on to her mom.
This story just signifies to me how important pound cake is to many people. It’s a simple cake, a fact that is portrayed in the name itself. “A pound of this…a pound of that…” Yes, it’s simple…but even the most elaborate dessert does not compare to a slice of hot pound cake fresh from the oven. It’s delicious topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sliced strawberries and juice. But I’m quite happy enjoying a slice unadorned.
So yes, I’m happy to include it in my “last meal on earth,” list.
Here are just a few of my favorite pound cake recipes.
Five Flavors-Pound Cake
Cake: 2 sticks butter 3 cups sugar 1 cup milk 5 eggs, lightly whisked (not beaten to liquid form) 3 cups all-purpose flour ½ cup vegetable shortening 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon each: vanilla, lemon, rum, coconut and butter flavoring Glaze: 1 cup sugar ½ cup water 1 teaspoon each: vanilla, lemon, rum, coconut and butter flavoring For the cake: Cream butter, shortening and sugar in mixer. Add egg mixture slowly, beating well after the addition of each lightly-whisked egg, to ensure eggs are incorporated. Add baking powder to flour and stir to combine; add flour and milk alternately to the batter. Add the extracts one at a time, completely incorporating each one before adding the next. Continue beating until batter is shiny, about 4 minutes. Bake in a greased and floured tube pan for 1½ hours at 300 degrees. Glaze: combine ingredients in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is melted. Pour over hot cake while it’s still in the pan. Let set until cake is cool.
Whipping Cream Pound Cake 3 cups sugar 1 cup real butter room temperature (no substitution) 6 large eggs, room temperature 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 1 cup whipping cream (also known as heavy cream) 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 10-inch bundt or tube pan with non-stick spray or flour and grease pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on medium butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix until smooth about 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and heavy cream alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and mix on low to medium until well combined.
Pour batter into a prepared 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour 15-25 minutes at 325 degrees. Test for doneness with a wooden toothpick. Cool in the pan for 20 to 25 minutes before turning onto a serving plate to cool completely. Ten-Minute Pound Cake (You will need a stand mixer to adequately blend this heavy cake mix) 3 cups granulated sugar 2 cups butter, softened 6 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup whole milk Powdered sugar for dusting Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Liberally grease bottom, side and tube of 10-inch angel food cake pan with baking spray or shortening; lightly flour. In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla with electric stand mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 5 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. On low speed, gradually beat in flour alternately with milk. Pour batter into pan. Bake 1 hour 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.