The pound cake, also sometimes known as a plain cake or a tea cake, is a teatime classic. When it is well made, it has a soft and tender crumb, and melts in your mouth. Named a ‘pound’ cake because the traditional recipe calls for a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar, there are now hundreds of variations on the original recipe. However, the cake is almost always baked in either a loaf pan or a bundt pan.
Below, I offer three recipes of this wonderful favourite, the first is the plain variety, and the other two are variations that heighten the flavour of the traditional batter. Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature to achieve the best results. It is also important to note that beating the batter helps to build the cake’s structure and develops the crumb, so it is worth taking the extra time to beat for as long as directed.
3 tablespoons milk
1.5 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
150g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a loaf 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and then coat it with a light dusting of flour and set aside. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla essence. Whisk together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl until well mixed. Cut the butter in pieces and add to the dry ingredients along with half of the egg mixture. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds with an electric mixer, then increase the speed to medium and beat for one minute. Add the remaining eggs in two lots, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out completely clean.
A teatime staple, there is nothing quite as wonderful as a well-baked pound cake
115g melted chocolate (you can substitute this with 2.5 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder)
2 tablespoons strong coffee (mix 3 teaspoons instant coffee with 2 tablespoons hot water)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a loaf 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and then coat it with a light dusting of flour and set aside. Mix the chocolate (or cocoa powder) with the coffee and set aside. Combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for three minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and beat well. Add the flour mixture and the yoghurt alternately in two lots, beating until combined. Divide the batter equally into two bowls and mix the chocolate/coffee mixture in one of the bowls. Use two tablespoons to drop the chocolate and plain batters into the pan side by side and then use a butter knife to marble both batters. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Lemon Cranberry Pound Cake
40ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
60g dried cranberries (chopped)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
300g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
In a small saucepan, bring the lemon juice and cranberries to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to cool. Strain the cranberries and then reserve the juice and cranberries separately. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a loaf 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and then coat it with a light dusting of flour and set aside. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the sugar with the lemon zest and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about three minutes). Beat in the vanilla essence and the eggs and mix well. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and the yoghurt in three lots. Stir in the drained cranberries. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven and cool for five minutes. Then brush the top of the cake with half the reserved cranberry liquid. After 15 minutes, remove the cake from the pan and brush the top and sides with the rest of the liquid.
The writer is a professional chef and holds a diploma in pastry from Le Cordon Bleu
Published in Dawn, EOS, July 19th, 2020