Simple, buttery, sweet. Recipes with these criteria have been popping up around the blog-(and magazine)o-sphere recently. Molly made a Busy-Day cake. Claudia jazzed it up a bit. I was already drooling over the prospect of a simple, buttery, plain cake when Saveur’s March issue sat down on my doorstep. The words, in bold block-lettering stamped on top of the word Saveur, said “How to Bake the World’s Best Pound Cake.” It was the butter issue. I got goosebumps.
Usually, if a dessert is not chocolate, it doesn’t exist to me. Normally, I wouldn’t even notice a piece of pound cake if it were shoved right under my nose, never mind bake my own. But of course, this is why food magazines (and blogs) are so popular—they make you do things you’d never imagined doing. Like, I never would have paired tomatoes with coconut milk if I hadn’t seen it so beautifully photographed in the very same magazine months before. Saveur has a way with me, making me cook things even if I am 100% percent sure that I won’t like it beforehand (I’m always wronged.) And this time! Even though I’ve never tasted a pound cake I liked before (sadly, I’ve tasted a lot of pound cake) I was bombarded with such lovely posts and pictures and magazine articles that I threw caution to the wind and got my beater a-beatin’.
Of course, I learned that I do like pound cake. At least this pound cake. It probably helps that this pound cake is made with 12 ounces of butter. It’s moist. It’s buttery. It’s sweet. And… it is simple. It’s something you can make on a weekday. And then you can take it in to work the next day, and in your most stressed out and harried moment, shove a piece into your mouth and feel all-better. Simplicity in a pound cake.
serves 10//from Saveur Magazine Issue #109
My cake didn’t have the familiar browned crust like a normal pound cake because I was focused on having it as moist as possible and took it out a bit early. I was happy with the results, but do as you prefer. I also made it in small (4-in) bundt and cake pans, though I’m not posting my adaptations because you might as well make the big cake—you’ll want it to stick around.
Also, I saw on Serious Eats that Ed Levine left out the almond extract. To me, that’s blasphemy! That almond flavor is critical to pound-cakey-goodness. But, ahh, to each his own. (He does, to his credit and my renewed admiration, suggest draping bacon slices over the cake.)
12 oz. butter plus more for the pan, at room temperature
2 tbsp. plus 3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. fine salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure almond extract
1 tsp. pure lemon extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Heat oven to 325°. Generously grease a light-colored 10″ tube pan with butter. Add 2 tbsp. flour; turn the pan to coat it evenly with flour, tap out any excess, and set aside. (The inside of the pan should be smoothly and evenly coated with butter and flour, with no clumps or gaps.)
Using a sieve set over a bowl, sift together remaining flour, baking powder, and salt. Repeat 2 more times. In a measuring vessel with a pourable spout, combine milk and the almond, lemon, and vanilla extracts. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter at medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, 1⁄4 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat until satiny smooth, about 3 minutes.
Add 1 egg at a time to the butter mixture, beating for 15 seconds before adding another, and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down sides of the bowl; beat just until the batter is smooth and silky but no more.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and firmly tap on a counter to allow batter to settle evenly. Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out moist but clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; let cool completely before slicing.