Classic Pound Cake

This is your Classic Pound Cake recipe comes out of the Fine Cooking Magazine April/May 2011 issue. We thought this pound cake looked gorgeous in the magazine, so we decided to make it last Sunday afternoon. 
I have only eaten one kind of pound cake in my life, and that is my Great Aunt Nanny’s Pound Cake recipe.  It is delicious and has been in our family for years.  The Classic Pound Cake from Fine Cooking is completely different:  it is extremely thick and dense. Nanny’s Pound Cake is much lighter, and more like an airy cake.  I have never had a cake this dense before, so I was a bit unsure at first.  My mother-in-law, Paula, loved the denseness of this cake, and raved to me about how wonderful the cake was.
I reflect on this dessert, I would give it a “thumbs up” and would make it again.  I would rate Nanny’s Pound Cake as number one though, probably because I grew up with that recipe. 
Pound cake is a classic dessert that can be “dressed up” in many ways.  Make it a Simple Shortcake and top slices of pound cake with fresh berries or poached or sauteed fruit (like peaches or pears) and add a dollop of whipped cream…like we did below.
Other ways to “dress up” your pound cake include making an Easy Triffle.  Drizzle cubes of cake with liqueur and in a large bowl, layer with custard, fruit, and whipped cream.  
Finally, call it Pound Cake a la Mode and serve slices with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce; with butter pecan ice cream and caramel sauce; or with chocolate ice cream, raspberry puree’ and fresh raspberries.  It’s up to you…make your pound cake your own work of art.  Enjoy!

Classic Pound Cake
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, slightly firm, plus 1 Tbsp. softened
8 oz. (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. table salt
5 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 3/4 oz. (1 3/4 cups) superfine sugar
Nonstick cooking spray
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Using a pastry brush, thoroughly coat an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 3/4-inch loaf pan with the 1 tablespoon softened butter.  Line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and whisk thoroughly.
3.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until thickened and lightened in color, 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.  Clean the bowl of the stand mixer and fit with the paddle attachment.  Beat the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and mix 1 minute longer.  Add the sugar 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, taking about 4 minutes to add it all and scraping the bowl as needed.
4.  Still on medium-low speed, slowly add half of the beaten eggs, taking about 2 minutes to add them.  Scrap the bowl as needed and beat for 30 seconds more.  Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternatively with the remaining eggs (divide the flour into 3 parts and the eggs into 2 parts), mixing just until each addition is incorporated.  Scrape the bowl and beat on medium low for 10 seconds more.
5.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth the top with the back of a large soup spoon, making sure to reach well into the corners.  Bang the pan on the counter two times to remove air pockets.
6.  Bake the cake until the top is golden-brown, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and a thin wooden skewer inserted slightly off center into the cake (not into the crack) comes out clean, 1 hour and 20 to 25 minutes.  During the last 15 minutes of baking, lightly spray a 12-inch strip of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray and rest it loosely on top of the cake.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
7.  To serve, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 1/2-inch slices.  Tightly wrap any remaining cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.  (Do not refrigerate).

Serves:  6 to 8
Fine Cooking Magazine, April/May 2011

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