25 June 2010

Classic Pound Cake - Half-Pound, Actually






Pound cake is a British invention of the early 18th century, I'm told, and got its name from being made from a pound each of the primary ingredients--eggs, flour, sugar and butter. These proportions have been altered over the years, but I wanted to make a cake that held as closely to that proportion as possible. I LOVE experimenting in the kitchen! The recipe I came up with uses approximately a half pound of each.

For some reason, at the last minute, I decided to replace half the butter with organic canola oil. (Sorry, Julia [Child], but I really do need to cut back on my butter consumption!) I used organic eggs, butter and milk, too. Cake flour is supposed to be best for cakes, but I make all my cakes with organic unbleached all-purpose flour. And I haven't had any complaints yet!

I think it's pretty much the perfect pound cake! I loved the texture as well as the flavor. Lemon pound cake is good, too, but I like the classic vanilla pound cake for trifle. And I'll be using half the cake for trifle for next week's post. Stay tuned! In the meantime, tell me about your favorite pound cake and how you like to serve it.

Classic Pound Cake – Half-Pound Cake, Actually

(Makes one 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf)

4 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 2/3 dip-and-sweep* cups (8.33 ounces/236 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (8.75 ounces/248 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup organic canola oil or second stick of butter

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Butter and lightly flour, or spray with cooking spray, one 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf tin
. (See the "My Little Shop" page for a great bread and loaf pan in two sizes: 1.5 pound/9x5x3 and 1 pound/8.5x4.5x2.75) Putting a piece of parchment paper in the bottom, and then buttering or spraying the paper, is a good idea if you're worried about sticking.

2 In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla; set aside.

3 In bowl of electric mixer or other large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and mace; mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to “sift” the dry ingredients. Add the butter; mix on low speed to combine. Add the oil and half the egg mixture; mix on low speed to combine, then on medium speed for one minute. Add half the remaining egg mixture; mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add remaining egg mixture; mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.

4 Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350F/180C/Gas4 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325F/165C/Gas3 and continue baking 55 to 60 minutes.

5 Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely. The cooled cake can be wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Can be double-wrapped and frozen for a month; thaw, wrapped, at room temperature.

* All my recipes specify a "dip-and-sweep" measure of unsifted flour. The weight of a given measure of flour varies a lot, depending on whether it was packed, scooped, sifted, unsifted. A scooped and leveled cup, the most consistent volume measure, of unsifted unbleached all-purpose flour weighs about 5 ounces. All my recipes are based on that and will not turn out right if the flour is measured some other way.

(Interviewed by another foodie at http://tinyurl.com/3afufdm)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about loaf pan sizes. Some pans are called a certain size, like 9x5x3, and some say they are for a certain weight loaf. I know if you use the wrong size pan, recipes don't turn out right. --Carol

Jean said...

Thanks, Carol. Yes, it is important to use the correct sized pan. I have four different sizes myself. If a recipe, like this one, calls for a 9x5x3-inch pan and you have one that's closer to 10x4x3, get out your measuring cup and see how much water it holds. A 9x5x3-inch loaf pan holds about 8 cups, maybe a little less, and is sometimes called a 1.5-pound loaf pan. An 8.5x4.5x2.75 holds about 6 cups and is sometimes called a 1-pound loaf pan.

Jean said...

One more thing, Carol. The 9x5x3-inch pan is often called a "large" loaf pan, and the 8.5x4.5x2.75 is often called a "medium" or "standard" loaf pan.

smilernpb said...

Hi Jean, thank you so much for coming over and visiting my blog! :o) It's lovely to 'meet' you.

Gosh, you have a great blog here, looks like you've got some wonderful recipes to share.

Have a great day.

David not Dave said...

I love this recipe. I did this to the T, but I did not have any mace (or nutmeg) and so I had to leave it out. I am not sure how important it because it was delicious. It was also a little bready, which was an actual plus.

Jean said...

David, I'm soooo glad you liked it! The mace or nutmeg isn't crucial, as you discovered, it's just a subtle note I like.

David not Dave said...

I made this a second time and it tasted differant. It was still good, but I am not sure what was differant. My friends loved it, but tasted to me more like bannana-nut bread minus the banana and nuts. I think I might have used cake flour the first time (I seem to think I did this because I remember using cake flour for something when a friend was visiting, and he was visiting when I made this cake, but does not sould like me to do something differant when following a recepie for the first time). How much differance would this make? I prefer the first one over the second.

Jean said...

Hi David, I'm not sure what might have made the difference for you. There wouldn't be much of a flavor difference between cake flour and unbleached all-purpose. Sometimes eggs and butter have flavor variations. The flour would make a slight texture variation. The important thing is to use the same weight of flour. If using cake flour instead of 1 2/3 packed cups of all-purpose, be sure to use 8.33 ounces. Hope this helps!

Maybelline Chow said...

I've made this numerous times now with many compliments :) Mace is something I've never used before but I love it now - gives it that extra 'oomph'! I've also made a couple with blueberries and strawberries - delish! I think I've made so much pound cake now that my brother has decided to make my 9x5x3 inch loaf pan disappear :/

Now here is my question...I know it might be a dumb question...but I really am no good with tailoring a recipe. What adjustments would I need to make to fit a 8.5x4.5x2.75 inch loaf pan?

Jean said...

Maybelline, thank you sooooo much! You just made my day! If you want to make it fit the smaller loaf pan, try these amounts:

3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 packed cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon mace
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons organic canola oil

And do let me know how it turns out for you!

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