Pound cake is not the sexiest of treats, I’ll give you that, but it is one of the most comforting and satisfying. Moreover, it is the perfect blank canvas and takes beautifully to being zhuzhed up with a dollop of whipped cream and a handful of berries or a scoop of your favorite ice cream. This particular pound cake calls for buttermilk, which adds a lovely tenderness to the cake, and reminds me of the Sara Lee version with which I grew up – and adored.
There were few homemade baked goods on offer in my childhood home and that was a-okay with me as long as the store-bought ones that appeared fairly regularly (lucky me) on the kitchen counter, or in a cabinet, included the aforementioned Sarah Lee cake. For someone who’s one true love is chocolate, the fact that a slice of plain old pound cake was such a thrill, is really saying something. And although I have not purchased a Sara Lee pound cake in years (and as I write this, I am quite literally adding it to my grocery list – as this lack of Sara Lee in my life – or in the life of my kids – needs to be dealt with stat), my love of pound cake has not waned. Thus, this from-scratch version has been a long time coming and I couldn’t be more excited about sharing it.
What you should know:
The assembly is dead simple, although it does require a stand mixer, as a pound cake’s texture and crumb benefit immeasurably from the fluffiness of really well creamed butter and sugar. This takes 5 minutes in a stand mixer on medium-high speed and will likely take close to, well, forever, if done by hand. This recipe calls for a yolk, in addition to the two eggs, for a little extra moisture, as a dry crumbly pound cake must be avoided at all costs. And the eggs and yolk are added one at a time to the batter with up to a minute of beating happening, after each one. Again, this is done so that the cake’s, dare I say, velvety texture really shines. The dry ingredients are added along with the buttermilk, and voilà: the cake is ready for the oven. It does take almost an hour to bake, but, pinky-promise, is well worth the time.
Wait for the cake to cool before slicing into it – or don’t – and on day two or three (if it lasts that long) try toasting a slice and slathering it with butter and jam . . . delish.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or softened butter. Line the bottom and the two short ends of the pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend over the top of the pan.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar, on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, at least five minutes, scraping down the bowl with a flexible spatula as needed.
On medium speed, add the eggs and yolk one at a time, beating after each for about one minute. Scrape the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat until just incorporated.
On low speed, add the dry ingredients to the bowl in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, and beginning and ending with the dry, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stop the mixer when a few streaks of flour remain and finish mixing by hand.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a moist crumb or two. Remove the loaf from the pan once the pan is cool enough to handle, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving slices with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a handful of fresh berries. •
Jessie is a baker and cookbook author; you can learn more about her through her website www.jessiesheehanbakes.com.