Pound cake is a staple dessert in the south. Growing up, it was rare to not see it gracing the table of every potluck, church function and summertime get-together I went to. If you were lucky, it was homemade and accompanied by fresh fruit that had been tossed with sugar, which created a syrupy goodness to spoon over the pound cake.
Pound cake recipes first started appearing in 18th century American and English cookbooks. The name referenced the fact that the cake often contained 1 pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. In an era where literacy was not common, this was an easy recipe to remember. Early versions also sometimes contained alcohol and fruit, making them sound similar to fruitcakes. Since modern leaveners and mixers were obviously not available, one had to rely on some sturdy arm muscles to whip air into the batter to create volume for the dense, rich cake. Although recipes today widely vary, this buttery cake is an excellent dessert to have in one’s cooking repertoire.
The recipe I developed is not traditional in the least. I used a leavener in my batter and even added buttermilk to the ingredient list. Since I was highlighting this cake with bright summer flavors, I wanted to lighten the dense texture just a little. The peaches, plums and nectarines are amazing right now, so I went with stone fruit for my accompanying side and chose basil and lime for a unique take on fresh summer flavors. But the great thing about pound cake is that you can change the flavor profile according to the season and your personal taste.
Now over many years of baking, I have learned that some steps are pretty crucial to desirable textures in baked goods. When I started baking at the wise old age of 11, I thought creaming together butter and sugar for several minutes seemed absurd. To my eye they appeared perfectly mixed after about 30 seconds. Several unsuccessful recipes later, I realized this was actually an important step.
Another way to ensure a lighter texture is to sift the flour. Now, If I am milling flour at home, I don’t bother. It is already aerated from being freshly ground. But if I am pulling out that compressed bag of all-purpose flour from my pantry, then I am going to sift it. Once.
I like baking pound cake in a bundt pan because it creates a pretty looking cake. If you have ever made a cake in a shaped pan and flipped it out to cool, only to have part of it stick to the pan, then you know the importance of greasing and flouring your pans. Also, the butter and flour get cozy with the cake batter in this recipe and create a tasty little crust on the cake.
If you prefer, you can use two small (8×4 inch) loaf pans instead of a bundt or cake pan.
Featured mixer color: light crème. For instructions on setting up your mixer, click HERE.
Lime Pound Cake with Basil and Stone Fruit
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes
2 pounds stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines), diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon sugar
13 1/2 oz. all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
zest of 1 lime
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
powdered sugar for dusting, optional
In a medium size bowl, combine the stone fruit, basil and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Gently mix, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 10-inch bundt pan or 2 (8×4 inch) loaf pans.
Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder into a small bowl. Whisk the lime zest into the flour mixture.
Place the butter and 3 cups sugar in the Ankarsrum plastic whisking bowl with the single-wire whips. Cream together on medium-high speed (4 o’clock) for 3 minutes, turning off and scraping down the sides as necessary. Reduce the speed to medium (3 o’clock) and add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 additions, mixing just until combined after each addition on low speed (between 1 and 2 o’clock). Scrape down the sides as necessary.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth down the top. Gently tap the cake pan on the counter to remove any air pockets.
Bake at 350° until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, approximately 60-65 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the bundt pan and gently flip over to release the cake from it’s pan. Let cool completely.
To serve: If desired, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar. Serve with stone fruit.
Yield: 1 (10-inch) cake, 10-12 servings
Whole Wheat Version:
-Replace the all-purpose flour with equal parts whole wheat pastry flour.
-Replace the sugar with honey granules (aka sucanat with honey).
-Follow the above recipe.
-Replace the all-purpose flour with 7 1/4 oz. sorghum flour, 3 5/8 oz. brown rice flour, 1 3/4 oz. each tapioca flour and potato starch.
-Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. Sift with the dry ingredients.
-Replace 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk with 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice.
-Butter and flour the pan using sorghum flour instead of regular flour.
-Follow the above recipe.