As a stress cooker, I did my fair share of baking in college. Most of my friends knew that an all night study session would inevitably be followed by an afternoon of baking stuff I couldn’t possibly eat, so they’d drop by after class got out to enjoy the spoils. Most of the time I’d make some cookies, but after a really bad test, I needed cake. Pound Cake, that is. So easy, and so good. Southern food made simple.
While cake baking is somewhat technical and prone to failure, making and baking a pound cake is pretty foolproof. Good old fashioned southern simplicity is the name of the game here. Originally, the pound cake was made with only four ingredients; butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. The recipe was even easier-one pound of each ingredient. Over time, people toyed with the recipe to get different results, adding buttermilk, tweaking the ratios of ingredients, and adding leavening agents like baking soda. Yet the name stayed the same, pound cake.
In truth, I’d never made a true “pound” cake. I’ve always made my grandmother’s recipe. So when I was asked to fix some dessert for a luncheon at church, I figured I’d have a little bake-off and see how the two recipes compared. To my suprise, there was very little difference in the taste of the two recipes. The real difference is in consistency and moisture. The “original” recipe is a bit denser and slightly drier, but still quite good. However, I (and the majority of my tasters) still prefer the moisture of the buttermilk pound cake.
The beauty of pound cake is that it is so good served so many different ways. Fresh out of the oven, it only needs a little whipped cream or just a spread of butter. If you want to fancy it up, cut up some fruit and make a simple sauce to top it, or grill a slice and top with peaches and cream. If you have company coming next week, bake one now, then wrap it up and throw it in the freezer. It’ll still taste great. And remember, even if your life is complicated, it doesn’t mean your baking has to be. Till we eat again…
Head of Southern Food Engineering
Original Pound Cake
- 1 lb unsalted, softened butter
- 1 lb sifted, all-purpose flour
- 1 lb sugar
- 1 lb eggs (8-9 eggs)
Prep a tube pan or bundt pan by rubbing with butter and coating inside surfaces with flour. Cream butter and sugar together in mixer. Then add eggs one at a time, mixing well in between each egg. Slowly add the flour. Pour into pan and bake at 325 degrees until internal temperature reads 210 degrees (approx 1 hour).
Na-Na’s Buttermilk Pound Cake
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 stick unsalted, softened butter
- 1/2 cup Crisco
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 5 eggs
- 3 cups sifted, all-purpose flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp boiling water
Prep a tube pan or bundt pan by rubbing with butter and coating inside surfaces with flour. Cream butter and sugar together in mixer. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between. Add flour and milk alternately in thirds. At very last, quickly mix in soda and boiling water. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees.