This week's Sweet Melissa Sunday recipe was my choice. I picked Perfect Pound Cake for several reasons: it's easy to make, Melissa seems quite proud of her recipe, and growing up my dad and I used to be fiends for Sara Lee all-butter pound cake, and so now when I do have a piece of pound cake, I always think of my dad.
The cake did turn out to be quite delicious--moist and rich, but not too sweet. I didn't have the proper size loaf pan to bake it in so I used a small springform pan and that worked out fine, though I think it would have been even moister with a loaf pan. I served it plain, toasted with a little butter, and warm from the pan with some honey.
I've included Melissa's comments along with the recipe.
Perfect Pound Cake
It was a Thursday at Sweet Melissa's, the day we'd make the loaf cakes for our customers to have for the weekend. Jessie, my pastry sous-chef, had asked me the day before, "What kind of loaf cakes do you want to make tomorrow?" I didn't know. I'd grown tired of the ones I'd made over the previous month, too much going on--berries, zest, juice, poppy seeds, glaze, nuts. I wasn't in the mood for any of it.
I went to my books for inspiration. Chocolate chips, streusel, pecans. I was being assaulted by add-ins. I closed my eyes and thought, "What do I want to eat?" I realized I wanted gentle texture, supported by butter, vanilla, and a little salt. What I wanted was the perfect pound cake.
Now this was an important mission. How could I have come as far as I had without the perfect pound cake? I was dumbfounded by my own shortcoming. Sure, I had made lots of pound cakes, as the base for this and that, or as the body of a raspberry lemon loaf, but had I made the perfect pound cake? I had not. It was time I did.
I played around with some recipes: Some used all butter, some added heavy cream. I fooled with the temperature of the butter, trying both softened and melted, and ultimately found myself in front of the most gorgeous batter I had ever seen. "I could swim in this batter," I told Jessie. "It is nice...," she replied without commitment. She had seen me testing recipes before, seen me excited about a batter, and even dealt with me sticking a batter-covered finger into her mouth from time to time.
"Jessie, you know the crack that pound cake has, where the center can get a little moist and yummy? That's my favorite part."
She said with noticeable doubt in her voice, as if preparing me for the possible impossibility, "You may be asking too much."
"Well, let's see." And I put the loaf into the oven.
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and then cooled to warm
Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt until smooth.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder until evenly combined.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla and heavy cream to combine.
4. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and whisk together until mostly incorporated. Pour half of the cream mixture over and whisk until mostly combined. Repeat with one-third more of the flour, followed by the remaining half of the cream mixture and the remaining flour. Do not over mix!
5. Pour the melted butter over the batter and fold in gently until incorporated. The batter will be silky and gorgeous.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before turning out the cake onto the rack.
The pound cake keeps well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, refrigerate tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 5 days, or freeze wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 1 month. Do not unwrap before defrosting.
Ultimate Indulgence: Try this the next time you have a cookout. Lightly grill several slices of pound cake and some fresh pineapple sliced about 3/4 inch thick. Top the pound cake with some vanilla ice cream, the grilled pineapple, and a healthy drizzle of Butterscotch sauce. I'm telling you, we could take over the world with this stuff.
Please see the delicious pound cakes made by the other Sweet Melissa bakers!