You guys know that I’m all about the basics, right? How ingredients function, how to get them to do what I want them to do, how to mix them properly—all of these Science-y things that most folks find intimidating, I find fascinating.
And once you internalize the Science-y bits, that’s when the magic can really happen.
One of the most magical things that I make is my Van Halen Pound Cake. I’ve made dozens of them, in dozens of different flavors, and I rarely make the same flavor twice unless I’m asked. The Science is that I stick to the same proportions of flour, sugar, eggs, fat and liquid each time I make the cake. More Science is how I take the time to build a very stable emulsion so I end up with a batter that is light and thick in which all the ingredients are evenly distributed so that when it bakes, it will have a beautiful, even crumb.
I make most of my cakes, and especially my Van Halen Pound Cakes using my own refinement of The Creaming Method because to me, the hallmarks of a great pound cake are a tight, even, melting crumb and a welcome moistness. Some pound cakes can be a bit heavy and dry. Not my Van Halen Pound Cake. I do hope you’ll give it a try.
Oh, about the video. Yesterday, I made two pound cakes for our neighborhood’s Relay for Life team’s spaghetti dinner fundraiser. I mentioned on facebook that I was going to make them at the same time since I have two stand mixers, and a couple of fans (cheeky fans) pretty much dared me to make a video set to Dueling Banjos. So I did.
I hope that you will find it helpful, because while it is kind of funny and makes me smile, I also show you the techniques I use to make the cakes. If you’ve ever been unhappy with your “scratch made cakes,” I think this video will help you understand how to make a stable batter so you can be more successful. And if you are a Baking Wizard, I hope the video makes you smile. And maybe dance a jig.
I’m including the formula for the lemon pound cake here, and if you go to the Recipes Tab -up top, you’ll find a whole section on pound cakes. Or you can just click here.
- 19 oz granulated sugar
- 12 oz unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- 1 gently rounded teaspoon fine sea salt
- Zest of 2 lemons (use a Microplane for best results)
- ¼ teaspoon lemon extract or 3 drops of lemon oil
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- 13 oz cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 6 oz thick Greek yogurt (without gums or other additives) or sour cream
- 2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
- 2 oz whole milk
- Set your oven rack to one below the center and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Spray a 12-cup Bundt-type pan thoroughly with pan spray, then flour your pan very well. Knock out the excess flour. If you only have a 10-cup Bundt-type pan, you’ll have about 1½ cups of batter left over. You can use this to make a 6″ cake or maybe 4-5 cupcakes. Go ahead and prepare those pans if necessary. *Set aside.
- Cream together butter, sugar, salt, zest and extract/oil until very light and fluffy. Take your time here; it could take 10 minutes or more. You want your creamed mixture to be very pale in color (this lets you know that you’ve incorporated a lot of air into the mix) and very thick and fluffy. Scrape down your mixing bowl as necessary.
- While the butter mixture is creaming, whisk together your flour, baking powder and baking soda. If after whisking, the flour seems a bit lumpy, go ahead and sift the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Whisk together the yogurt/sour cream, lemon juice and whole milk. Set aside.
- Once the butter/sugar mixture is beautifully light, drizzle in the beaten eggs, a bit at a time, over a period of about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
- Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients, beginning and ending with dry, in this manner:
- Add half the dry
- Add half the wet
- Add half of the remaining dry ingredients
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients
- Add the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Mix on low for only about 5 seconds between additions. Scrape the bowl as necessary, making sure to get down to the bottom, but don’t worry too much about completely mixing.
- Once all your ingredients are combined, scrape the bowl and fold by hand for a few seconds.
- Put the bowl back on the mixer and mix on high speed for no more than three seconds.
- Scrape the batter into your prepared pan(s).
- Bake for about an hour until the cake is well risen, deeply golden brown and has a crack running around the center of the top of the cake (pound cakes do this. It’s okay). A thin knife or a skewer inserted into Said Crack should come out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes (10 minutes if you’ve made a small extra cake) then turn the cake out.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool. I promise this will not give you a soggy cake, just a very moist and wonderful cake.
- When just barely warm, you can glaze the cake with a mixture of powdered sugar, lemon juice and just a pinch of salt.
So, there you have it. Learn the science, because that’s when the magic can happen.
Thanks so much for watching and reading. I hope you have a lovely day.
Here are some other excellent Baking Method and Technique posts from around the Blogosphere.
- The Egg Foam Method by Franny Cakes
- The Biscuit Method by Joe Pastry
- The Muffin Method by Joe Pastry
And Here are Some Other Simply Lovely Pound Cakes
- Perfect Pound Cake by RasaMalaysia
- Chocolate Pound Cake by Joy of Baking
- Vintage Sour Cream Pound Cake by Bake This Cake