Sweet Technique

Master the basic skills necessary to become a great pastry chef.

Sweet Technique: How to Make Perfect Pound Cake

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Sweet Technique: How to Make Perfect Pound Cake

[Photograph: Lauren Weisenthal]

Pound cake might be the worst-named food in the world. True, it's a good description of the contents (a pound of flour, a pound of butter, etc.) but when I'm considering a cake indulgence, I think that it's pretty lame to remind me of the consequences to my waistline before even taking a bite. It's a miracle that, despite its terrible branding, pound cake has stood the test of time.
 
That's because pound cake is one of the best dessert delivery systems out there. When I look at pound cake, I see a blank canvas that's begging to be painted with macerated fruits, drizzled with chocolaty syrups, piled with dollops of whipped cream. It has the perfect texture for soaking up juices and sauces, and unlike some other cakes, it doesn't go to mush.

To make a great pound cake, one that has a moist, even crumb and a surprising amount of flavor from such few ingredients, stick with the classic 1:1:1:1 pound ratio of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, and add flavor to enhance it. My favorite flavoring are the seeds scraped from a real vanilla bean, but extracts, zest, or spices may also be added.

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Here are some tips for a great cake with a moist and even crumb:

  • Prepare pans with butter and parchment so the cakes come out of the pan without sticking
  • Take the time to properly cream the butter and sugar so it's fluffy and light
  • Be sure to avoid over-mixing the batter once dry ingredients are added
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before serving
Click through the slideshow to learn step by step tips for pound cake success, then go ahead a make a few—one to enjoy now, and one to freeze for a rainy day.

Get the Recipe

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake »

About the author: Lauren Weisenthalhas logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.

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