I went through a pound cake phase a couple of weeks ago where I tested out several different pound cake recipes. My kids didn't complain about having to taste test pound cakes for several days, especially not when I had fresh berries to go with the cakes.
Here are some tips I found helpful:
- Bake the pound cakes in small loaf pans for best results. Many recipes say to use a bundt pan, but I had problems with my cakes sticking. I have three different size loaf pans. The large bread loaf size was too done on the outside before the center was cooked. The tiny ones were too much hassle for this recipe. The middle-sized ones were just right. (Ha! Take that, Goldilocks!) They measure about 6x3 and about 4 inches tall. The non-stick ones are nice to use for cakes, but make sure you grease and flour them so the cake comes out smoothly.
- Beat the living daylights out of everything EXCEPT the flour. Cream the sugar and butter for the full five minutes. Cream the eggs for another five minutes. Don't skimp on the creaming. But once you add the flour, stir as little as possible or you might end up with tough cake.
- If the cake looks funky or falls apart, it still tastes good. Make a parfait and pretend that you intended the cake to be in crumbles. Looks aren't everything, especially with desserts.
- Cooking times are estimates. Your oven may bake faster or slower depending on how accurate the temperature is. Mine tends to bake hot so I adjust the temperature down 5-15° from what the recipe says to keep from burning things. Check the cake with a toothpick for doneness starting at the shortest time. If your oven needs another 5-10 minutes, don't panic. Just check the cake every 3-4 minutes to keep from burning. The toothpick should come out clean when poked into the center. My tip is that once I really start to smell it baking, I need to start keeping a close eye on it.
Classic Pound Cake
1 2/3 c. butter, softened (use the real stuff for this recipe, not margarine)
2 1/2 c. sugar
6 large eggs
3 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
Preheat oven to 325° F.
Cream butter until it is very light and fluffy, at least 4 minutes. Add sugar. Cream for another 3-4 minutes until very light. Add eggs. Beat for another 5 minutes. Mixture should be very light and fluffy.
Turn mixer speed to low. Add 1 c. flour. Mix only until moistened. Add 1/4 c. milk. Repeat adding flour and milk alternately until all has been added. Stir in flavorings. Mix on low speed just until smooth.
Grease and flour 4 6x3 loaf pans. Divide cake batter between pans. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one loaf comes out clean and cake is lightly browned.
Cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes. Use a spatula to loosen the edges, then turn out cakes onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.