Velvety, dense, and rich, pound cake has been a baker's staple since colonial times. This recipe is moist and flavorful on its own, but you can dress it up by serving slices topped with lemon curd, berries, poached fruit, ice cream or fruit purée.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Using a pastry brush, thoroughly coat an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-3/4-inch loaf pan with the 1 Tbs. softened butter. Line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt and whisk thoroughly.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until thickened and lightened in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Clean the bowl of the stand mixer and fit it with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix 1 minute longer. Add the sugar 1 to 2 Tbs. at a time, taking about 4 minutes to add it all and scraping the bowl as needed.
Still on medium-low speed, slowly add half of the beaten eggs, taking about 2 minutes to add them. Scrape the bowl as needed and beat for 30 seconds more. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the remaining eggs (divide the flour into 3 parts and the eggs into 2 parts), mixing just until each addition is incorporated. Scrape the bowl and beat on medium low for 10 seconds more.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with the back of a large soup spoon, making sure to reach well into the corners. Bang the pan on the counter two times to remove any air pockets.
Bake the cake until the top is golden-brown, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and a thin wooden skewer inserted slightly off center into the cake (not into the crack) comes out clean, 1 hour and 20 to 25 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of baking, lightly spray a 12-inch strip of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray and rest it loosely on top of the cake. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
To serve, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 1/2-inch slices.
Simple shortcake: Top slices of cake with fresh berries or poached or sautéed fruit (like peaches or pears) and add a dollop of whipped cream.
Pound cake à la mode: Serve slices with a scoop of vanilla ice
cream and hot fudge sauce; with butter pecan ice cream and caramel
sauce; or with chocolate ice cream, raspberry purée, and fresh
Easy trifle: Drizzle cubes of cake with liqueur and in a large bowl, layer with custard, fruit, and whipped cream.
Tightly wrap any remaining cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. (Do not refrigerate.)
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Scott Phillips