Pound cakes have been around for a long time and began with one pound each of flour, butter, sugar and eggs, hence the name. A cake made from the original recipe is going to be plain, dense and a little on the dry side. It was a definite improvement over more primitive cakes when it was first developed, but I have never heard anyone request a plain, dense, dry cake and the original recipe has fallen out of favor a bit.
Modern pound cake is lighter, but still very dense and quite moist. Its simplicity makes it a popular target for flavors like vanilla, almond and lemon, though some people will prefer the subtlety of just the butter and egg. Vanilla is probably my top choice, although I do like to vary the flavors when I make the cake so I don’t get bored by having the same thing over and over. In another change from the early recipe, sour cream is now a popular addition to pound cake because it adds a slightly tangy richness and a lot of moisture to the cake.
In this recipe, I reduced the number of whole eggs and increased the number of whites, both for health and to whiten the color of the final cake. This particular cake is very moist and vanilla-y. It is wonderfully dense with a tight crumb, without being heavy at all.
Pound cake, because if its simplicity, is commonly used as a vehicle for fresh fruits and whipped cream. Instead of relegating it to a sideline dish, I usually like to make it the star and serve it plain or with only a light glaze. Covered, it keeps for several days.
Sour Cream Pound Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream (low fat will work)
10 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs and egg whites together until combined. Stir in vanilla extract.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and smooth, 2-3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in beaten eggs until batter is well combined. Stir in 1/3 of flour mixture until just blended, followed by 1/2 cup of sour cream. Repeat with another addition of flour, followed by remaining sour cream. Stir in the rest of the flour until batter is just smooth and no streaks of flour remain.
Don’t worry if the batter looks curdled at any point, just keep going and it will smooth out.
Spoon batter into prepared bundt pan and tap it on the counter to eliminate any bubbles. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed.
Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.