Pound cake owes its name to the easy-to-remember quantities in the original recipe: a pound of flour and a pound of butter. Unfortunately, those same quantities result in a cake that's dry and dense; for the longest time, I thought that pound cake was named for its sinking, anchorlike weight.
Lucky for us, Nicole Rees, author of the appliance-free pastry manual, Baking Unplugged, has carefully tweaked the formula to yield a moister, fluffier cake. The recipe may not be as easy to remember, but the end result will go down very easily indeed--especially if you play around with the chocolate chip, blueberry and eggnog variations.
- 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup plus 2 tbs unsalted butter, soft
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Combine the milk and the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and the baking powder.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and salt together until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs. Stir in the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk, but starting and ending with the flour. Gently spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 42 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the center comes out with only moist crumbs clinging. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Cool completely out of the pan on the rack.
Blueberry pound cake: Stir in 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries into the batter and increase the baking time by 5 minutes.
Eggnog pound cake with spiked glaze: Stir 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg into the completed batter. For the glaze, combine 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons each brandy and rum. After 15 minutes of cooling, invert the warm cake onto a serving plate. Using a skewer, poke holes all over the cake. Brush every inch of visible cake with the glaze until the glaze is gone. When the cake is completely cool, the glaze will form a protective crust over the cake.
Chocolate chip pound cake: Reduce the milk to 2/3 cup and stir 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips into the batter.