Pre-heat your ovens! March 4 is National Pound Cake Day. National Pound Cake Day is centered around the tradition of “Bake a pound, give a pound,” which basically means you give away one pound cake for every one you bake for yourself. Traditional Southern American recipes use one pound each of all the ingredients, which earned this dessert the name “Pound” Cake. Of course, that also makes a pretty big cake, so common practice is to split the recipes in half and bake two smaller pound cakes. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, pound cake recipes have been popular throughout the United Kingdom and the United States for over 200 years.
Basic Pound Cake Recipe:
1 ½ cups self-rising flour
2 cups (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 medium eggs
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Beat the butter until smooth, add sugar, and continue to mix. Add vanilla. Then add the eggs. Gradually add the flour, making sure to even mix or beat all ingredients around the bowl. Grease a traditional pound cake bundt pan. Pour the pound cake batter into the pan and bake about 30 minutes. The top of the pound cake should be golden and a toothpick or fork should be clean when stuck into the cake.
Once you’ve mastered the Basic Pound Cake Recipe, you can get creative with additions and toppings to suit any palette. Serve thick slices of pound cake warm from the oven with homemade vanilla ice cream. Add fresh whipped cream and fruit like sliced strawberries, peaches, blueberries or raspberries. You can make flavored icing glazes for your pound cake by mixing fine powdered sugar and orange juice (or other fruit juices) and drizzling it over the top of the cake.
Shape Things Up
Play around with different cake shapes and sizes. Traditional pound cake pans are heavy, non stick, bundt-shaped (circular with a hole in the middle like a large donut). You can also make layers of pound cake and add thick layers of icing between each one. Check your local baking stores and home goods departments for shaped pound cake pans. Castle shapes help you create your own fairy tale pound cake with turrets and towers. Basic shapes like hearts, stars, and cartoon characters can easily be decorated with colored icings. Small individual cake pans, most made of easy-to-clean silicone, can make 4-to-6-inch personal cakes for giving away.
Pound Cake Cupcakes
Celebrate National Pound Cake Day at the office by baking pound cupcakes. Prepare the basic pound cake recipe batter. Spoon into paper cupcake liners and bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pound cupcakes from the oven and let cool. Sprinkle with fine powdered sugar and place them in your office common area or hand them out individually.
Add Some Flavor
Play around with exotic extracts in your pound cake. Add two teaspoons of either orange, cinnamon, amaretto, almond, lemon, or cherry extract to the Basic Pound Cake Recipe. You can include traditional pie spices, like allspice, nutmeg, cloves, or brown sugar. Go further with chopped fruits – include one cup diced cherries, peaches, apples, or apricots. For a rich chocolate pound cake, include baking cocoa and a handful of chocolate chips. Top chocolate pound cake with a rich chocolate glaze and chopped pecans or almonds.