When I was younger, I remember going to the convenience store down the street from our house to buy sweets with my grandfather. To this day, there are two things that I always look for when I’m at a gas station or corner store: coconut cream pie and pound cake. Two guilty pleasures that are inextricably reminiscent and nostalgic of my grandfather and my childhood.
My grandfather has the worst sweet tooth; spoonfuls of sugar in his tea and limeade, creamy and rich coconut macaroons that’s little else than sweetened condensed milk, and buttery pound cake are just a few of his favorite things. I can’t say that none of that didn’t rub off a little on me. If my grandfather hadn’t shared his syrupy sweet coconut cream pies or densely sugary pound cakes with me, I wouldn’t have such a great appreciation for all the other sweet treats like cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.
Pound cake is a classic though. I remember my grandfather buying them in those individually sealed cellophane bags; a thick, moist, and oddly pale golden slice of pound cake between the two of us. I just love the simplicity and versatility of a good pound cake. Its sweetness, complemented by strong notes of vanilla, makes it the perfect treat with a handful of fresh berries and whipped cream, or just plain by itself. While this recipe doesn’t quite cut it in terms of a moist cake or buttery and vanilla sweetness, it’s still a little slice of childhood for me.
Pound Cake, from Ina Garten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans, place them on a baking rack and allow them to cool completely. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator.
This is a good recipe for a plain, basic pound cake and for a first attempt. I followed the recipe exactly and the result was a dense, sweet cake. It was a bit dry but I don’t know if it’s because of the recipe or because of my easily over-heated oven. Perhaps this could also be remedied by using cake flour instead of all-purpose. I also cut down the sugar by a tablespoon or so which I don’t think works well for this recipe — I definitely wanted the cake to be a bit more sweet. Still, it was a delicious after dinner treat with some whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
I have another recipe for cold-oven pound cake from one of my housemates which I will test out and test back for comparison! In the meantime, though, this is a still great recipe!