No embellishments necessary. There is nothing like the first slice of a perfectly baked, slightly-warm pound cake. With or without a dusting of Confectioners' sugar or a drizzling of sweet creamy glaze, it's the perfect foil for berries, ice cream, whipped cream or all three. For me, just as pictured here, it is all I need for breakfast or brunch with a cup of coffee or tea. It's irresistible.
Pound cake is personal. I'd never proclaim to have the best recipe because almost everyone's mother or grandmother made the best pound cake they ever tasted. I'm no exception: My grandmother made the best pound cake I ever tasted. Like all pound-cake-baking grandmas, she used the same basic ingredients as everyone (flour, sugar, butter and eggs plus vanilla), then she incorporated two tangy ingredients common to her Eastern European heritage:
Sour cream & buttermilk teamed up w/a double dose of vanilla.
My grandmother didn't own a bundt pan, she owned a tube pan. Why? Because she was baking long before two women from Minneapolis approached the Nordic Ware founder, H. David Dalquist (in the 1940's), to ask him if he would produce a modern version of the German Gugelhupf pan. In 1950, the bundt pan (the "t" was added to the name for trademarking purposes) was sold for the first time. My mom bought one sometime in the latter 1950's and this is her pan -- one of the originals -- cast in unembellished aluminum.
The bundt pan itself, didn't gain in popularity until a woman by the name of Ella Heifrich won second place in the 1966 Pillsbury Bakeoff with her "Tunnel of Fudge" cake.
I only remember my mom using this pan during the 1960's to make bundt cakes from recipes she clipped out of magazines like Redbook and Women's Day. She never made my grandmother's pound cake in a bundt pan, and, until today, neither did I.
To learn the difference between a bundt pan and a tube pan, read my post ~ Bakeware Essentials: A Bundt Pan & A Tube Pan ~ simply by clicking on the Related Article link below.
A bit about pound cake ("quatre-quarts" in French, meaning "four fourths": Originally, this fine-textured loaf-shaped cake was made with 1-pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs, plus a flavoring, most commonly vanilla. That is the original recipe, nothing more, nothing less. Over the years, variations evolved, mostly adding leaveners like baking powder and baking soda to encourage rising, resulting in a less dense cake. Vegetable oil is sometimes substituted in place of some of the butter, to produce a moister cake. "Sour cream pound cake" and "buttermilk pound cake" recipes substitute sour cream or buttermilk in place of some of the butter to produce a moister cake with a pleasant tang too. My grandmother's recipe uses a bit of both.
It's time to bake an old-school pound cake in my new bundt pan!
This is an easy cake to bake. That said, it's important to make sure that the butter is very soft and the eggs are at room temperature. I remove the butter 2 1/2-3 hours prior to baking the cake and my eggs about an hour in advance. The extra step of separating the eggs and whipping the whites before folding them in the batter is well worth the extra few moments it takes. That said, before whipping those whites, be sure to wash and dry the beaters or they won't whip.
1 cup salted butter (yes, salted butter), at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)
3 cups sugar
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (Note: Sometimes I use a combination of vanilla extract and butter-rum flavoring.)
no-stick cooking spray, for preparing pan
~ Step 1. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside. In a second medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. In a 1 cup measuring container, stir together the sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract, until smooth. Set aside. Spray a 15-cup bundt pan with no-stick cooking spray and preheat oven to a moderate 325°-330°.
~ Step 2. In a large bowl, place butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed of mixer for three minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium and in a thin stream add and thoroughly incorporate the sour cream and buttermilk mixture, increase speed to medium-high and beat another minute.
~ Step 3. Lower mixer speed. In 3 increments, incorporate the flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula constantly. Increase mixer speed to medium-high again and beat three more full minutes. Set batter aside.
~ Step 5. Transfer batter by large scoopfuls to prepared pan. Bake on center rack of preheated 325° oven 50-55 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool, in pan, 10-15 minutes. Invert cake onto rack to cool completely, about 2-3 hours.
Pound cake going into 325° oven to bake for 50-55 minutes:
Special Equipment List: plastic wrap; 1-cup measuring container; spoon; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; cake tester
Cook's Note: When it comes to dessert, I don't like things overly sweet or over embellished. For example, when I want a chocolate cookie, I keep it simple. My recipe for, ~ I'm in the Mood for: Plain-Jane Chocolate Cookies ~ can be found in Category 7.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)