Variations on a Pound Cake

I once asked my coworker what his favourite cake was. He told me it was pound cake. I think I may have scoffed at his answer. "Pound cake? Really. A dense, crumby, old-lady cake?"

I think I've always dismissed pound cake because I remembered it as a dry, dense cake, usually lacking in flavour. But I went ahead and made it anyway. And then made another for my parents. And then made it again for my birthday picnic.

I've changed my mind. Pound cake is my favourite, too. I'm addicted.

Chocolate pecan pound cake

Chocolate pecan pound cake

I think it's a sign of growing up. I don't need my cake to be covered in icing. I don't need it to be fluffy to be moist. I love a cake that can stand up to coffee. And I love a cake that is so simple to make, you can play around with the flavours and have it turn out perfectly every time.

Now, if only it could be healthier... I did commit to more healthful options at the Farmhouse Retreat, but this pound cake may have to sneak into the weekend feast.

Strawberry jam marbled pound cake

Strawberry jam marbled pound cake

A new jar of jam and a crunchy crust on the loaf

A new jar of jam and a crunchy crust on the loaf

Variations on a Basic Poundcake

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg's recipe

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 small loaf pans with parchment paper. I always prefer to make 2 loaves from one recipe. You can always use one larger loaf pan and bake the cake for about 15 minutes longer.

Beat the butter in an electric mixer on medium speed; add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 mins. In the meantime, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

To the butter sugar mixture, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low until just incorporated. Give it one final scrape with the spatula to make sure everything's well blended. (Check that bottom tricky spot on the bottom of the kitchen aid mixer.)

Fill loaf pans and bake for 50 mins or until a poked skewer comes out clean.

Variation 1 Citrus

I've tried lime (2-3), lemons (1-2), and grapefruit (1/2). Anything goes!

For a vibrant citrus flavour, grate the zest of the citrus fruit and add to the sugar butter mixture at the beginning. Add the juice of the fruit (about 1/4 cup) after the addition of eggs. Don't worry if it appears a little curdled. Continue with above directions. I usually omit the vanilla if I'm adding citrus.

Variation 2 Nuts or chocolate

When adding nuts or chocolate, add them at the end. Just before all the flour is incorporated, add about 1 cup to 1.5 cups of chocolate chips or nuts. You can also crumble nuts on top of the cake, but you might want to bake at 325 to prevent any charring of the nuts. At 325, you will likely need an extra 10 to 15 minutes of bake time. Always test with a skewer.

Variation 3 Marbled Jam

You can swirl your choice of jam into the batter after filling the loaf pans. It's up to you how much you want to mix it in. I've used homemade strawberry jam (a little runnier and less sweet) and swirled in about 1/4 cup to each loaf pan.

If you try any other variations, please share! I'm always looking for new ideas!