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True Pound Cake

| June 30, 2014 | 5 Comments

True Pound Cake Recipe as seen on Taste of Southern.
Follow step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make this True Pound Cake.  Consisting of one pound each of Eggs, Flour, Sugar and Butter, this recipe is referred to as the “True” recipe for making pound cake.  Dating back to the 1700’s, this version is a bit more dense than today’s pound cakes, but well worth adding to your recipe box.  Printable recipe included.

 

True Pound Cake, slider
True Pound Cake Recipe:  

 

Pound Cake, or True Pound Cake?  What’s the difference?  Just like the debate here in North Carolina over which barbecue is best, Eastern or Western style, there is also much debate over Pound Cake. We’ve pretty much lost sight of what True Pound Cake is these days, but let’s look at where it began and work our way up.

True Pound Cake, is a recipe that dates back to the 1700’s.  It gets the name of pound cake, because of how it’s made.  Originally, the recipe called for one pound each of Flour, Sugar, Butter, and Eggs. Whether or not it contains any type of flavoring, will stir up debate just about as much as whether cornbread does, or doesn’t, contain sugar.  Can’t we be pleased with both?

Early cookbooks, like The Virginia Housewife (1838), and Seventy Five Receipts (1832), both call for the addition of ingredients like Brandy, Wine, Rose Water, Nutmeg, Mace, grated Lemon peel, and/or Cinnamon.  And, let’s not even get into the Indian Pound Cake recipe, also printed in the Seventy Five Receipts cookbook, that calls for using Corn Meal and Wheat Flour instead of Cake Flour. So, which recipe actually produces the Original, or True version of this golden delicious simple Pound Cake?

We’ve come to recognize the four, one-pound each of ingredients, as True Pound Cake, which we’ll present below.  One thing that both of the above mentioned cookbooks had in common was, the recipes called for Powdered Sugar.  Was that the same as what we buy today?  I don’t know.  Another suggestion from more modern recipes, says to use Cake Flour instead of just regular flour.  So, I set out to use both Powdered Sugar and Cake Flour in this recipe.  And, I’m going to show you how to make your own Cake Flour at home.

I set my heart to follow suggestions like baking the cake for TWO hours, starting in a cold oven.  And, to the critics that say flavorings aren’t allowed, I point you to our very own North Carolina State Fair. The fair has competition categories for both Pound Cake and True Pound Cake. Their True Pound Cake category (butter, flour, sugar, eggs) allows for the addition of liquid flavorings, including vanilla and spices.”

So, let the next debate begin.  Is THIS recipe really a True Pound Cake, or is it just another plain cake that needs a new name?  I’ll look forward to reading your comments as I place another scoop of Ice Cream, on a slightly toasted slice of this very tasty pound cake, that I was very pleased with. Ready to try it yourself?  Alright then, Let’s Get Cooking!

True Pound Cake, ingredients.
True Pound Cake:  You’ll need these ingredients.

We’re going to use the All-Purpose Flour to make our own “Cake Flour,” as called for in many recipes.  And, I’m going to take the liberty of adding some Vanilla Extract, as it’s considered acceptable to many of the earlier recipes as well.

 

True Pound Cake, weighing out flour.
To Make Your Own Cake Flour:  I started by weighing out one pound of All-Purpose Flour.  You can buy Cake Flour straight off the shelf in your favorite grocery store, but I decided to make my own, and show you how to do the same.  If you decide to use purchased cake flour, you can skip on down a few steps to where we sift the Powdered Sugar.

 

True Pound Cake, level cups.
How many cups are in a pound of flour?  That depends on the type of flour you are using, and probably on who is doing the measuring to some extent.  In order to also deal in “cups,” I measured out the flour, using level cups.  Flour should always be measured as a “level” cup.  That means, spoon your flour into a measuring cup.  Then, take the back of a knife and drag it across the top of the cup to “level” it off. Easy stuff. For the record, I measured out 3 and 3/4’s cups of flour from the original pound of flour.

 

True Pound Cake, removing flour.
To make Cake Flour, you’ll need to remove two Tablespoons of flour for each cup measured.  I removed 7 Tablespoons of flour and placed it back in the bag.

 

True Pound Cake, measuring the corn starch.
To make the Cake Flour, you’ll replace the removed flour, Tablespoon-per-Tablespoon, with Corn Starch.  Thus, I measured out 7 Tablespoons of Corn Starch to replace the same amount of flour that I had just removed.  Still with me?

 

True Pound Cake, add the corn starch.
To make the Cake Flour, add the corn starch to the flour.  I then took a fork and mixed it up a bit.

 

True Pound Cake, place flour in a sifter.
To make the Cake Flour, place the combined flour and corn starch in a sifter that you’ve placed in a mixing bowl.  We’ll need to sift the flour 3 different times, so you’ll also need another mixing bowl.

 

True Pound Cake, sift the flour.
To make the Cake Flour, sift the flour into the mixing bowl.  That’s one time completed.

 

True Pound Cake, sift again.
To make the Cake Flour, place the sifter in another bowl.  Spoon the sifted flour back into your sifter and sift it for the second time.

 

True Pound Cake, sift for the third time.
To make the Cake Flour, place the sifter back in the original bowl.  Spoon the sifted flour back into the sifter and sift again for the THIRD time. Congratulations, you’ve just made your own Cake Flour.  That’s all there is to it.  Set the Cake Flour aside for the moment.

 

True Pound Cake, sift the powdered sugar.
OK, this part got a bit messy.  Spoon the Powdered Sugar into your sifter.  Keep the sifter down in the bowl as much as possible as you sift the Powdered Sugar.  I’m not sure why, but this produced a great deal of static, the more I turned the handle on the sifter.  The sugar then decided it wanted to cling to my sifter, and to my body, flying in all directions out from under the sifter and attacking my kitchen.

 

True Pound Cake, add butter.
You’ll need a good sized mixing bowl to continue.  Add the pound of softened Butter to the bowl.

 

True Pound Cake, beat butter until fluffy.
Using a mixer, beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy.  At first, my little hand mixer didn’t want to do this for me, but after the butter warmed up a little, we moved forward.

 

True Pound Cake, scrape down sides as needed.
Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, throughout the process of mixing the batter.

 

True Pound Cake, gradually add the sugar and beat.
Gradually add the sugar a little at a time, and continue to mix it all together.

 

True Pound Cake, cream sugar and butter together.
Scrape down the sides again, and cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy.

 

True Pound Cake, add eggs, one at a time.
The next step doesn’t take as long as you might think.  We’re adding the eggs, one at a time, until we’ve got them all incorporated into the sugar and butter.  It’s always best to crack the eggs into a small bowl before adding them into your batter.  That way, should any egg shell fall in, you can easily see and retrieve it.

 

True Pound Cake, beat just briefly after adding each egg.
Beat the egg just briefly after you add each one.  You only need to mix it until the yolk has been mixed in.  Do not over mix the eggs.

 

True Pound Cake, repeat.
You’ll then repeat the process of adding one egg at a time, until they are all incorporated.  Again, just beat lightly after adding each egg.  The less you have to work the batter at this point, the better the end results.

 

True Pound Cake, gradually add the flour.
Gradually add the Flour, about one cup at a time.  With the mixer, beat this in the batter until it’s incorporated, but don’t over do it.  Continue to add the flour until it’s all been added to the batter.

 

True Pound Cake, add the vanilla extract.
Add the Vanilla Extract.  Use the mixer briefly to incorporate the flavoring.  Then, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and fold the batter together a time or two more.

 

True Pound Cake, fold in the flavoring.
You’ll have a fairly thick batter at this point.

 

True Pound Cake, spray your pan.
Use a “Baking Spray” of choice, and spray the inside of your pan.  I wanted to use loaf pans but only had one on hand.  I found my Bundt Pan and used it instead.  You could use Butter to grease the pan, then flour it, but the baking spray helps get into all the edges of a Bundt Pan fairly easily.  Just remember, Baking Spray contains flour already.  A regular cooking spray does not and will not work by itself for this recipe.

 

True Pound Cake, brush excess from bottom.
You don’t want any excess spray gathering in the bottom of the pan.  I took a pastry brush and smoothed this out by brushing up the sides of the pan and up the sides of the tube in the center.  You really need to be sure that the entire inside of the pan is well coated before adding the batter.  Exercise a little patience here and get it right.  You’ll be happily rewarded with a cake that releases easily from the pan.

 

True Pound Cake,
Carefully add the batter to the pan.  I held the bowl and turned the Bundt Pan as I poured the batter. Then, I used my spatula to smooth the batter out inside, and get it as level as possible all around the pan.

 

True Pound Cake, tap the pan hard on your counter.
When the batter is smooth, lift the pan up a couple of inches and just let it drop back down on your counter top.  This should break up any bubbles that might have formed in the batter.  Do this several times, just don’t crack your counter top in the process.  Any bubbles would just cause holes in your cake.  Pretty in bread, not so pretty in cakes.

 

True Pound Cake, coax batter up the edges.
Take the spatula and carefully run it through the middle section of your batter.  Force the batter up the sides of the pan and the sides of the tube just a little.  This will help the cake to rise more evenly once it begins to bake.

 

True Pound Cake, start in a cold oven.
START IN A COLD OVEN:  I placed the cake on the middle rack in my oven.  Do not preheat the oven. Just place the cake in the cold oven and close the door.  Turn the heat up to 275º and let the cake start to bake.  It will need to bake between 1-and-1/2 hours, to two hours.

I had vowed to let this one bake a full two hours just to see what would happen.  I do not have a glass door on my oven, so that became a bit of a task to complete.  I made sure to keep sniffing around the oven to make sure it wasn’t burning.  I must admit though, I tested the cake at an hour and 45 minutes to see if it was done.  I saw just a few crumbs on the wooden skewer that I inserted into the cake.  I think it would have been best to have pulled the cake out at that point, but again, I was mindset on baking for two hours.

Resist the urge to open the oven door so your cake doesn’t fall while baking. Ovens will vary, so you’ll have to trust your own instincts as to when it’s best to remove your cake.

 

True Pound Cake, test for doneness.
The top center of the cake will be the last to bake.  The old recipe books called for inserting a wooden “twig” into the cake, all the way to the bottom to test and be sure it was fully baked.  I used a wooden skewer, but a toothpick inserted in the top would be just as good.  If it pulls out clean, the cake is done.

 

True Pound Cake, set the cake on a wire rack to cool.
Set the cake on a wire rack and let it cool for 20 minutes before you try to remove it from the pan.  As you can see, it rose a good bit once it baked.  Don’t you just love that “crack” that runs around the entire cake.  This is normal and expected.  It would have looked great in a loaf pan too.  Now, will it come OUT of the pan OK?

 

True Pound Cake,
Beautiful!  After 20 minutes, place the wire rack on top of the cake.  Gently hold the rack against the cake and flip it all over.  Set the rack and pan down on your counter.  If the cake doesn’t fall right out, gently tap around the bottom of the cake pan.  You’ll hear a slight change in the tone of your tapping, once the cake falls out.  I did have to tap mine a time or two, and held my breath as I lifted the cake pan away.

 

True Pound Cake, a little brown.
As you can see, it came out clean.  Whew!  I had one spot, smaller than your little fingernail, that stuck to the pan.  Let the cake cool completely before slicing.  That was the hard part, I wanted to taste it right away.

 

True Pound Cake, enjoy.
Overall, I think it turned out a little brown on the outside, but it made for a good crust.  It IS very dense, compared to many of your regular Pound Cakes that add more ingredients.  The baking time might be a little longer than needed, as it was just a tad drier than what I’ve become accustomed to.  It was quite tasty though, and I was glad I had made it with the powdered sugar and baked it for two hours.  I can only imagine what this would be like, baked on a hearth near an open fire, or even in a wood cook stove. Surely it took on a bit of that smokey flavor from the burning wood.  That would have been awesome! Enjoy!

 

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True Pound Cake Recipe, with printable, as seen on Taste of Southern.com

True Pound Cake

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: Varies, according to slices.
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Follow step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make this True Pound Cake. Consisting of one pound each of Eggs, Flour, Sugar and Butter, this recipe is referred to as the “True” recipe for making pound cake. Dating back to the 1700’s, this version is a bit more dense than today’s pound cakes, but well worth adding to your recipe box.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Butter ( 4 sticks)
  • 1 pound Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 pound Eggs (10 large eggs)
  • 1 pound All-Purpose Flour, or Cake Flour (3 & ¾ cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

Instructions

DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN

  1. Butter and eggs should be at room temperature before mixing.

To Make Your Own Cake Flour:

  1. Weigh out one pound, or 3 ¾ cups of All-Purpose Flour
  2. Remove 7 Tablespoons of the flour and place back in bag.
  3. Add 7 Tablespoons of Corn Starch to the flour.
  4. Sift the flour and corn starch together, 3 to 4 times, set aside.

If using Cake Flour, measure one pound and sift. Set aside.

  1. Sift the Confectioners Sugar into another small mixing bowl.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Gradually add sugar to butter, beating continuously, until it’s well incorporated, light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating briefly, but well, after each addition.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Gradually add flour, beating briefly, but well, after each addition, until mixture is smooth.
  7. Add flavoring, beat just until incorporated.
  8. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold together a time or two.
  9. Grease and flour pan, making sure you don’t leave any lumps of flour in the corners.
  10. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Level top gently with a spoon.
  11. Gently spread batter up the sides and center cone of the pan, pulling batter from the middle.
  12. Place cake on middle rack in a COLD oven.
  13. Bake at 275ºF for 2 hours, or until done. Test by inserting a wooden toothpick into center of cake. Cake is done when it comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  14. Remove pan from oven and let cool on a wire rack, for 20-30 minutes.
  15. Carefully flip pan over and remove cake.
  16. Let cake cool completely before slicing.
  17. Enjoy!

Notes

Makes one Bundt Pan Size Cake or 3 loaf pan size cakes.

Keywords: True Pound Cake, original pound cake, made from scratch, our state magazine, southern recipes

 

Your Comments:  Have you ever made a True Pound Cake, using just the four basic ingredients?  What’s your favorite way to make or enjoy Pound Cake?  I’d love for you to join the debate over what pound cake really is and to share some of your favorite pound cake stories.  It will only take a minute or two for you to leave us a comment in the section below.  Please know, that all comments are moderated.  That just means that I personally read each and every one of them before they are approved for our family friendly home, here on the Internet.  I also try to reply to as many Comments as possible, so be sure to check back in a day or two for that.  Your comment will not automatically appear, but I’ll get it approved and online just as quick as possible.  Thank you in advance.

Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter:  Each time we post a new recipe here on Taste of Southern, I try to send out a quick Email to let you know that it’s up.  It’s just a quick reminder of any new recipes, or anything else of value, that’s going on around Taste of Southern.  It’s absolutely FREE for you to join us, and very easy to Sign Up.  Just add the needed information in the box below, or in the box in the top right hand corner of any page of our site.  It’s a great way to keep up with our recipes and should you ever decide you’re no longer interested, it’s super quick to unsubscribe.  I’ll be watching for your name to appear on our list.  Also, if you find our recipes helpful, be sure to share our information with your family and friends.  I’ll greatly appreciate it.

Be Blessed!!!
Steve

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Category: Desserts

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (5)

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  1. Janice says:

    Steve, I just found you site and am enjoying reading your research on each recipe. One interesting note, this is less sugar than today’s recipes. Something that I had not realized since I follow a traditional recipe using cup measurements. I have been using the old southern cream cheese pound cake recipe for more than 35 years. Mom was not a baker, so when I tasted a rich buttery pound cake made by one of the church ladies, I was in love. My question, was confectioner sugar common in those days? Thanks for all of the research and taking the time to share.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Janice, Thank you for your question. First, please know that I am in no way a food historian or authority on such matters. I do get curious sometimes and try to find a few answers and will often share them here on Taste of Southern. That’s what some of the information at the top of this recipe is. Having said that, let’s see if we can confuse things even more so. Smile.

      In the book listed as Mrs. Elliots Housewife, written by Mrs Sarah Elliot of Oxford, North Carolina and published in 1870, she lists the following under her page about “Weights and Measures”.

      She writes – “One pound of LOAF sugar is one quart” and she states, “One pound and one ounce of POWDERED sugar are one quart.”

      This leads one to believe that they did indeed have powdered sugar at that time.

      LOAF sugar was the way sugar was sold and transported in the early days. It was formed into a cone shape and sold that way. It seems it had a bit more moisture and would be hard when you purchased it. You used nips to break off portions from the cone. You would then beat that into something more like the granulated sugar that we are familiar with in bags from the grocery store today.

      Aren’t we blessed that we no longer have to go through that to obtain a cup of sugar? Smile.

      In her suggestions for making cakes she says, “If your sugar is coarse or lumpy, place it on the biscuit board and roll it with the rolling pin and then run it through the sieve. Remember, this is just to prepare the sugar for your recipe. We’ve got it so easy these days.

      In her cake recipes, she refers to “fine sugar,”loaf sugar,” and just “sugar.” Not sure why she references it differently. Most of her recipes call for sugar by pound, half pound etc, as in weighed out amounts.

      Powdered sugar and confectioners sugar are the same thing. You can even make it at home by just grinding up granulated sugar in a coffee grinder, food processor, or by hand with a mortar and pestle.

      But again, the confectioners sugar has been around for quite some time. From what I’ve found online, a mill for making powdered sugar was first invented around 1851. Apparently it was popular enough for someone to do it on a commercial basis.

      Long answer around your question, but hope it might help. Thank you again for asking. I do appreciate you taking the time to write and for your visit. I trust you will visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Michelle says:

    Wow Steve, your dedication to all things simplistic and true is refreshing to read on your blog.
    From taking the time to make your own cake flour to weighing out the ingredients…
    I love your comments along the way as you complete the process.
    It’s like I’m right there in the kitchen with you as you create.
    I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog and can’t wait to try this recipe for pound cake!
    Keep sharing. God Bless.
    Michelle, Toronto ON.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Michelle, Greetings to Toronto from North Carolina. Thank you for your comments and compliments regarding our recipes. I sincerely appreciate them.

      Hopefully, you’ll give some of our recipes a try. I’d love to know how they turn out for you. Thank you for your visit today, and be sure to stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Annalee says:

    Steve:
    I look so forward to your Monday newsletters. I feel part of your world and an insight to Carolinian life. I love it. I will be making this delicious cake as soon as possible. Recipe reminds me of my Grandma.

    Have a wonderful holiday and do keep tapping on your computer. It’s lovely.
    Thanks again.
    Annalee, Hamburg, MI (yes, I’m a yankee, but don’t hold that against me.) {smiling}

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