Recipe: Buttermilk Pound Cake – Alabama NewsCenter
I love a pound cake. There’s something magical about the simplicity of a perfectly cooked, deliciously fragrant dish. pound cake. But I like really simple things like that. My family often jokingly calls me the “Mayor of Vanillatown” because of my love of simple flavors. No offense to the mayor of Flavortown, Mr. Guy Fieri.
The name pound cake comes from the fact that the original recipe, believed to be from northern Europe, contained one pound of butter, flour, sugar and eggs. Fortunately, we have since adapted the recipe a bit.
When it comes to making pound cake, there are two major issues, from my perspective.
The first concerns the ingredients.
The ratios of fat to flour to sugar stay relatively the same, but variations on ingredients range from butter to shortening to cream cheese to sour cream and milk to buttermilk to water — they’re everywhere. And that’s OK, for the most part. It’s one of those things where you just have to decide what pound cake tastes like to you and realize that each ingredient comes with certain challenges and benefits.
The other problem with making pound cake is the relatively high margin of error. For me, that’s the big one.
- Underbaking a cake means you’ll end up with gummy wet spots in the cake. It can also cause the cake to shrink or fall apart after baking.
- Overbaking can make the cake too dark and create a tough crust. Some say it can also cause the cake to stick to the pan.
- Mixing the cake too little can result in a dense, heavy cake.
- Overmixing can whip too much air into the eggs, resulting in a cake that can spill out of its pan and can even cause the cake crust to separate.
- The wrong measurement can cause you to add too much or too little flour, which can cause the cake to fall.
- Using ingredients that are not all at room temperature may prevent the cake from mixing sufficiently. This can create all sorts of problems.
- Failing to grease the pan properly can mean your cake sticks to the pan.
Any number of these things can derail your four-quarter plans. It can really make your head spin. So it’s important to have a reliable recipe that’s detailed enough to get you through the sticky parts, but also not so wordy that it’s intimidating.
I hope you will find this recipe just for that.
We worked for weeks to get this one right. Test cake after cake. Variation after variation. To bring it to the point where we feel it needs to be. I think we did about eight different versions.
But I’ll just be honest with you. They don’t always go perfectly. We operate in a fairly controlled environment and have a strong recipe development background under our belt, but things don’t always go to plan.
We actually had a little trouble getting this cake out of the pan. We have tried every type of Bundt pan, from brand new non-stick pans to my grandmother’s 30 year old pans. We tested every tip, tip and suggestion. We’ve used cooking spray with flour, shortening and flour, shortening and sugar, butter and flour, even cake (a homemade cake outing).
In our tests, we found that the new pan greased with shortening and flour gave the best results. While the fat and flour method has produced similar positive results in the past for us, I generally have better results with cake that comes off old molds versus new.
I’ve been racking my brains to figure out why this is the case, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Anyway, I’ve made quite a few pound cakes in my day, so here are my tips for making your pound cake perfect every time.
Perfect tips for the pound cake
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. This allows the cake ingredients to emulsify together.
- Be sure to measure your flour correctly. The method I recommend is to pour the flour into a dry measuring cup, then use the back of a butter knife to even out the flour in the cup.
- Beat the butter and sugar very well. The process usually takes about 5 minutes. Yes, 5 whole minutes.
- Do not overmix after adding the eggs. Once the eggs are in the batter, you want to mix just enough to combine everything, but not too much. Whipping too much air into the batter can cause the cake to overflow and possibly fall.
- Be sure to choose the right pan and grease and flour it well. I usually use a paper towel to spread vegetable shortening all over the surface of the pan, sprinkle the pan with all-purpose flour, and shake off the excess flour. Many people have had success using the release of homemade cakes. To do this, simply mix equal parts of all-purpose flour, vegetable shortening and vegetable oil until smooth and use a pastry brush to coat the pan before adding the batter. Extra release can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for several months.
- Make sure the cake is cooked. Baking time varies depending on oven, type of pan, etc. The cake should be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. A few wet crumbs are enough. I also like to temper my cakes using an instant-read thermometer. I live between 208 degrees and 210 degrees.
Buttermilk pound cake
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease and flour a 10-12 cup Bundt pan. Put aside.
- Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate each egg well after adding. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.
- Add dry ingredients and buttermilk to butter mixture alternately. Start with 1/3 of the dry, then half the milk, another 1/3 of the dry, the other 1/2 of the milk, then the rest of the dry.
- Mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
- Add the vanilla and almond extracts and stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the work surface to force air bubbles to rise to the top of the batter.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cooking times may vary.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then place a plate or tray over the pan and invert it to flip the cake onto the plate.
- Let cool completely.
- Slice and serve.
- Store covered on the counter for a few days or in the refrigerator longer.