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)
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract or 3 drops of lemon oil
- 5 large eggs , beaten
- 13 oz cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 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 1 1/2 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