by Mei Leong
With lovely, dense crumb and an easy-as recipe, it’s a shame pound cake has fallen out of favour. I’m truly surprised when it’s not recognised. But then I guess not everyone has memories of eating frozen pound cake. Yes, once upon a time frozen pound cake was the only kind I knew.
In the supermarket deep freezer, wedged in a Sara Lee rectangular, crinkly disposable foil tin, was the source of what I am still convinced is the best pound cake in the world. We used to buy these glorious bricks of pound cake and cut off slices whenever we wanted. They’d defrost in a minute or two and what you’d get is a golden, buttery slice of perfect cake. Soft yet dense, it was back then, decadent. As much as frozen cake sounds awful, it was truly lovely.
Apparently the frozen pound cake is still for sale out there, somewhere. But until I see it, homemade will have to do.
The name is derived from the ratio of ingredients: equal quantities of butter, sugar and flour. Totally healthy. For a lemon pound cake, add the zest of one lemon to the caster sugar.
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
4 free range eggs, beaten in a jug
250g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
3 tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a regular loaf tin or a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Leave this to beat for about 8 minutes, as you want as much air in the batter as possible for the cake to rise.
Reduce the speed and slowly dribble in the beaten eggs. Alternate with a spoonful of flour every now and then.
Add the remaining flour and salt. With a spatula or metal spoon, fold carefully by turning the bowl and scooping from the bottom. Fold in the milk until the mixture is just incorporated.
Spread the batter in the tin and bake for 60 minutes. The cake is pretty dense so it may take longer depending on your oven. Keep a close eye on it – it’s best to almost under bake it. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly. It’s ready to eat as is – or if you’re a glutton like me, slather it with buttercream (recipe below).
75g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk, as needed
In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and vanilla until smooth. Add the icing sugar, beating until no dry spots of icing sugar remain. Add the milk and beat until smooth.
Pop in the fridge until ready to use.
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