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When pound cake is sweet, nothing else compares. However when it’s dangerous, it’s additional unhappy. (I nonetheless have vivid reminiscences of a former roommate’s household recipe that was nearer to cardboard than cake.) To me, the proper pound cake is moist and flavorful with a crisp, golden brown crust. It ought to have a lightweight, tender crumb, however nonetheless be sturdy sufficient to slice cleanly into thick items. It ought to be scrumptious by itself, and likewise be a tasty associate for toppings, like whipped cream and berries.
Pound cake is believed to have originated in Europe within the 1700s and introduced to America by Amelia Simmons in her 1796 cookbook American Cookery, which was the primary cookbook authored by an American and revealed in the US. Abby Fisher, who was enslaved in South Carolina earlier than making her option to San Francisco after the Civil Conflict, helped popularize pound cake within the South when she included not one, however two pound cake recipes in her 1881 cookbook What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking. Fisher’s guide was the primary recognized cookbook written by an African American.
Pound cake acquired its title from the truth that the unique recipe used one pound every of sugar, eggs, flour, and butter. These proportions made it simple for anybody to whip up a cake, no matter whether or not they might learn or write. However utilizing a pound of every ingredient would have created a mammoth cake — sufficiently big to serve a number of households. Over time, pound cake recipes have been adjusted to incorporate synthetic leaveners like baking powder and soda, new elements and strategies have been launched, and the whopping quantity of elements was scaled again to make it extra applicable for residence bakers.
In the present day, there are numerous pound cake recipes, lots of which declare to be “the perfect.” Some use bitter cream for moisture and tenderness; others swap in cream cheese or heavy cream. Different variations embrace sugared sides for additional crunch or the addition of flavored extracts to set their recipe aside. After narrowing down the sector right down to 4 contestants, I got down to see which pound cake recipe is value making.
Meet Our 4 Pound Cake Contenders
After sorting by way of dozens of pound cake recipes, I landed on these 4, every of which has a barely totally different strategy.
Carla Hall’s pound cake recipe comes from her grandmother — and he or she claims it’s completely foolproof. What units it aside is the usage of bitter cream, in addition to 5 totally different extracts.
Ina Garten’s recipe makes use of heavy cream, orange zest, and a vanilla bean, however the actual curveball is that the cake is began in a chilly oven.
Grandbaby Cakes makes use of cream cheese in her Southern-style pound cake. Tons of glowing evaluations recommend that cream cheese could actually be a recreation changer.
How I Examined the Pound Cake Recipes
To maintain issues truthful, I made certain to make use of the identical model of elements for all 4 recipe checks: Florida Crystal sugar, King Arthur Baking flour, Vermont Creamery butter, and eggs from my very own chickens. I’m not going to lie, testing 4 desserts in a day was a LOT, however I needed them to all be equally recent after I tasted them. I let every cake cool to room temperature earlier than testing a slice, then I tasted them aspect by aspect on the finish of the night time.
1. The Taste-Packed Household Recipe: Carla Corridor’s Granny’s 5-Taste Pound Cake
This recipe got here collectively rapidly and simply, however I couldn’t shake the sensation that it felt extra like a tropical angel meals cake than a traditional pound cake. As an alternative of the crisp crust I used to be anticipating, the outside baked up easy and oddly gentle, and the within sprung again and virtually jiggled when poked. The combo of the coconut and rum extract added the tropical vibe.
With that stated, there’s a number of room to play with this recipe. Strive switching up the quantities of every extract, and even swapping in new ones (a number of 5 taste pound cake recipes recommend orange or butter extracts) to create a flavor-packed cake custom-made to your liking. You might additionally scale down to simply two or three extracts should you don’t have all 5.
2. The Finest Primary Recipe: King Arthur’s Velvet Pound Cake
Even supposing I’ve used their flour for years, this was the primary recipe I’ve ever tried from King Arthur Baking Firm. Their recipes are recognized for being dependable and easy-to-follow, and this one didn’t let me down: you principally dump every little thing into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix it collectively to create the batter.
However whereas I appreciated the benefit, the feel of the cake wasn’t something particular — it had a good crumb that wasn’t significantly delicate or tender. This was significantly disappointing because it’s described as “velvet.” Taste-wise, I preferred that it wasn’t too candy, but it surely might use slightly oomph. Subsequent time, I’ll throw it on the grill and prime it with whipped cream and peaches.
3. The One Full of Good Upgrades: Ina Garten’s Excellent Pound Cake
Ina calls this the proper pound cake, and I wholeheartedly agree — it’s stuffed with good upgrades and was very near taking residence the first-place prize. It begins off in a chilly oven (meaning no preheating) and slowly cooks by way of, which ends up in a young, even crumb. Baking it low and gradual additionally ensures that the crust doesn’t darken too rapidly earlier than the within of the cake is cooked by way of, although I did should bake mine for for much longer than Ina instructed. Ina’s use of vanilla bean together with orange zest perfumes the cake, giving it probably the most unimaginable taste.
However my favourite half was coating the edges of the pan with turbinado sugar, which created probably the most irresistible crackly crust. This textural distinction made it stand out from the gang, and there’s no query I’ll be making it once more.
4. The Craveworthy Basic: Grandbaby Muffins’ Cream Cheese Pound Cake
I’ve solely ever learn glowing evaluations of Grandbaby Muffins’ recipes, and now I perceive the hype. Jocelyn goes above and past in her weblog submit to elucidate each single element of this pound cake, from its historical past in her household to why sure elements and proportions are used. However most significantly, the recipe labored completely. It has probably the most beautiful golden brown exterior, and creaming the butter with oil and cream cheese created an excellent moist crumb. It definitely doesn’t want any toppings, however I’ve little question it might style nice paired with berries and whipped cream. I truthfully can’t consider a single means to enhance this recipe: it’s implausible.
Be ready that this recipe is baked in a 12-cup bundt pan and feeds a crowd, however that is type of the entire level of pound cake. If you happen to’re on the lookout for a traditional recipe, that is the one to make.
Do you could have a favourite pound cake recipe? Tell us within the feedback!