Why It Works
- Blending butter and oil gives the cake a fine, rich crumb.
- Sour cream stands in for a portion of the fat and eggs, for a boost in lactose to promote flavorful browning in the crust.
- A small amount of baking powder helps the crown to split.
- Baking at 375°F (190°C) will encourage the cake to peak.
With a crumb as smooth as marble, sour cream pound cake is dense to the point of creaminess, and velvety-soft as it melts on the tongue. A combination of vanilla beans and extract gives it a simple but nuanced flavor, for a cake that tastes as good as it looks (which is pretty dang gorgeous, thanks to its golden crown). Serve it plain, or with dollops of whipped cream and fresh fruit.
- 8 3/4 ounces sugar (about 1 1/4 cups; 250g)
- 4 ounces unsalted butter (about 8 tablespoons; 115g), about 65°F (18°C)
- 1 ounce refined coconut oil (about 2 tablespoons; 30g)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use
- 3 large eggs, brought to about 65°F (18°C)
- 7 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (about 1 2/3 cups, spooned; 215g), plus more for dusting pan (see note)
- 1/2 ounce vanilla extract (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)
- 5 ounces sour cream (about 2/3 cup; 140g)
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease a 1-pound aluminum loaf pan and dust with flour. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine sugar, butter, coconut oil, baking powder, salt, and vanilla seeds. Mix on low to combine, then increase to medium and cream until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes. About halfway through, pause to scrape bowl and beater with a flexible spatula.
With mixer still running, add eggs one at a time, letting each fully incorporate before adding the next. Reduce speed to low and sprinkle in 1/3 of flour, then add vanilla extract and 1/3 of sour cream. Repeat with remaining flour and sour cream, working in thirds as before.
Scrape bowl and beater with a flexible spatula and resume mixing on medium speed for 1 second to ensure everything is well combined. The batter should look creamy and thick, registering around 65°F on a digital thermometer. (Significant deviation indicates ingredients were too warm or too cold, which can lead to textural problems with the cake.)
Scrape into prepared pan and bake until crust is golden (although the interior of the split crown will be quite pale), about 55 minutes or to an internal temperature of 200°F (93°C). Cool cake to about 90°F (32°C), then loosen with a butter knife and remove from pan. Wrap tightly in plastic and continue cooling until no trace of warmth remains, about 3 hours. Slice with a chef's knife and serve plain, with ice cream, or with fruity whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Problems such as shrinking, toughness, or dense/wet texture can stem from all-purpose flours that are too strong. Cakes in particular benefit from soft all-purpose flours, especially those made from a blend of red and white wheat, such as bleached Gold Medal or Pillsbury.