The best vanilla pound cake recipe can be an elusive thing to chase. I’ve tried many recipes over the years and have tried to develop my own recipe several times to get the exact balance of elements that make for a perfect pound cake.
To my mind, the best vanilla pound cake recipe should produce a result that is dense but not stodgy and is simply flavoured but still rich and buttery. After experimenting with so-called authentic recipes that used strictly one pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs, I found the cake was a bit too dense.
The eggs did rise the cake sufficiently but the large amount of protein in 7 or 8 eggs acted as too much as a binder for the batter. In the end I decided to reduce the number of eggs and use a small amount of baking powder to help the cake rise.
Hundreds of years ago when the first pound cakes were baked, people would not have had access to baking powder. Good bakers always use the tools and techniques available to them to best effect though, so if they had baking powder back then, I feel they surely would have used it. I also used a combination of cake flour and all purpose flour in this cake to balance softness and structure in the cake crumb.
Good quality pure vanilla extract is a must and I also used undiluted evaporated milk in the batter to add an extra level of richness and flavour. I don’t know if I’ll continue my tweaking of this recipe or not because this is as close to my concept of the ideal pound cake that I have ever come. When you get some things right, they are best left alone and enjoyed to their fullest.
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- 1 pound butter at room temperature 2 cups
- 2 1/4 cups white sugar
- 2 tbsp good quality vanilla extract
- 4 extra large eggs at room temperature or 5 large
- 1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup undiluted evaporated milk use it straight from the can
This cake is baked in an oven that starts cold, so there's no need to preheat it. Grease a bundt pan very well and lightly dust it with flour. You can also use 2 standard loaf pans that have been lightly greased and lined with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract very well, for at least 10 -15 minutes. The aim is to incorporate as much air as possible into the creamed base of the batter. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl several times during the creaming process.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat for at least a minute or two before adding the next egg.
Sift together the flour, cake floor and baking powder.
Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture alternately with the undiluted evaporated milk. Always begin and end the folding process with the dry ingredients. As a general rule, I add the dry ingredients in three portions and the milk in two portions.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan/s, spreading the top with the back of a spoon to level it.
Place in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 325 degrees F. Baking times will vary on the size of the cake pans. My bundt pan took 1 hour and 30 minutes. Loaf pans should be checked after an hour. As always, let the wooden toothpick or skewer test be your guide. Insert a wooden toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake and when it comes out clean the cake is done. Watch it closely and only add extra time in 5 minute intervals, checking with a clean toothpick each time, so that you will not over bake the cake.
Let the cake/s rest in the pans for 10 - 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Delicious served with ripe strawberries and freshly whipped cream.
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