Sunday, December 18, 2011

Elvis' Favorite Pound Cake

I've always had a weakness for pound cake, but, embarrassingly enough, the frozen Sara Lee ones. After making multiple pound cakes from scratch, I have FINALLY found THE PERFECT pound cake recipe, and, of course, it's one of Elvis' favorites.

And now, mine as well.

Pound cake is traditionally made with a pound each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs and sugar. Nowadays, it's most important to simply maintain the 1:1:1:1 ratio, though numerous variations exist, from adding sour cream or leavening agents, to topping the cake with chocolate ganache glazes or, my personal favorite, a light lemon curd. Here in the South, pound cakes are EXTREMELY popular. Every grocery store bakery here sells different pound cakes in a myriad of flavors.

To me, the key to a good pound cake is ALL about the texture. Dense, but not heavy, light but not crumby, the key to baking this cake PERFECTLY is to use the "cold oven" method, and, most importantly, making sure that your oven's temperature is accurate. This recipe also uses cake flour, lighter in density & lowest in gluten; in addition, heavy cream adds a luscious richness.

Elvis' Favorite Pound Cake
adapted from Epicurious

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (plus additional for pan)
3 cups sifted cake flour (plus additional for pan)
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs, room temperature (30 minutes)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature (30 minutes)

Place oven rack in the middle of the oven (do not preheat!). Generously butter a 10" tube pan or 10" Bundt pan and then dust with flour; knock out excess flour.

Measure the cake flour by sifting directly into the measuring cup and then leveling with a knife. Sift together the sifted cake flour and salt into a bowl. Repeat sifting into another bowl - the cake flour will have been sifted three times (the initial sifting, plus twice sifted with salt).

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together the butter & sugar until pale and fluffy (about 6-8 minutes with a handheld mixer, and about 5 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment).

Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and add 1/2 of the flour mixture, all of the heavy cream, then the remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl, increase speed to medium-high, and beat for 5 minutes.

The batter will become creamier and satiny.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and rap firmly against the counter to loosen any air bubbles. Place the pan in  a COLD oven and turn oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs adhering. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then loosen with a thin knife and invert cake out of the pan to cool completely.

Cake keeps, covered well with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 5 days. That is, if it even lasts that long!

Sometimes the key to the best baked goods, lies in having a quality mixer. Use Sears coupon codes and generally you will save big.

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