How pound cake got its name
Pound cake is a British creation that dates back to the early 1700s. The name comes from the original recipe, which included 1 pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Other than the air whipped into the eggs and butter, the recipes did not call for leavening.
At a time when few people could read, it was an easy recipe to remember. It also yielded a large cake that could serve several families.
Over the years, the recipes were adjusted to make smaller and lighter cakes, but the name stuck. The pound cake has traditionally been popular in Southern states. Abby Fisher, who was born into slavery in South Carolina and learned to cook in plantation kitchens before eventually opening a preserve business, included two pound cake recipes in her cookbook: “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking,” published in 1881.
In the 1900s, artificial leaveners had been added to pound cake. Today, however, many recipes hark back to the original ingredients, but are adjusted for a smaller cake.
Along with being great plain or toasted, pound cake is well served as a base for fruit toppings and ice cream.
1 pound butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup of whole milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat butter at medium speed until creamy and lightly colored. This is important to incorporate air into the butter so the cake will rise. Gradually add sugar, until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until the yolk disappears.
Add flour to creamed mixture alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in extracts.
Pour into a greased and floured tube pan or two loaf pans.
Bake at 300 F for 1 hour and 40 minutes or when a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.