Food & Entertaining - Recipes

Try this recipe for a no-fail, classic pound cake.

It took me many tries to figure out what I was doing wrong with my pound cake—the center always looked raw no matter how long I cooked it. It turns out I wasn’t beating the sugar and butter mixture enough at the beginning—so please beat it for the full 5 minutes on high speed. Pound cake is one of the most basic of cakes, and this traditional version contains no leavening—the only lightening comes from beating sugar and air into the butter and eggs. Many more complicated cakes are based on pound cake and usually rely on baking powder, baking soda, or beaten egg whites for leavening.

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold butter, sliced
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups flour

Directions
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper. Flour the sides of the pan, tapping out the excess.

2 In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on high speed for 2 minutes. Switch to the whisk attachment and beat for 3 minutes more on high speed. Scrape down the sides of the mixer every minute with a rubber spatula.

3 Beat in the salt, the eggs one by one, and the vanilla. Add the flour and incorporate it into the batter on slow speed. As soon as you don’t see any lumps of flour in the batter, stop beating, usually after about 30 seconds.

4 Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and put the loaf pan on a baking sheet.

5 Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the top comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the loaf pan and slicing.

Creaming butter and sugar
Creamed butter and sugar are the base for many a cake because the air that’s beaten into the butter during the creaming causes the cake to rise. But to make matters somewhat more complicated, the butter should be cold. If it is warm or melted, it has no capacity to entrap air. Hence it can be hard to work, especially if you’re working by hand or with a hand mixer. The easiest approach is to use a stand mixer and start the creaming with the paddle blade and as the butter becomes more malleable switch to the whisk attachment. Of course when working by hand or with a handheld mixer, you don’t have this option. But as long as the butter is sliced, a bit of patience and, in the case of hand beating, elbow grease, will do the trick.

Makes 1 loaf cake.



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Excerpted from Kitchen Simple by James Peterson Copyright © 2011 by James Peterson. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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