All-American Classic: The Pound Cake

What could be simpler? A pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs equals one beautiful golden cake. The only problem? If you actually made that cake, you'd be in for some disappointment. (Not to mention a very large cake!)The pound cake has change a lot over the years, and that classic ratio of four simple ingredients has been tweaked, adjusted, and joined by a host of other ingredients. The original cake was a relatively dry and un-sweet affair, closer to French genoise and sponge cakes. It was usually soaked with simple syrup to add moisture and flavor before serving.

Compare that to our modern pound cake! These are rich, luscious, and velvety in texture. Modern pound cakes barely need icing or berries or anything else to fancy them up. They can stand just fine on their own. We often serve them at brunches and garden parties, or even just a simple weeknight dessert. We can't remember the last time we made genoise!

We suspect the change has much to do with our very American taste for rich, sugary desserts, but changes to ingredients also had a helping hand. In BakeWise, Shirley O. Corriher explains that the advent of low-protein cake flour and modern fats like Crisco enabled us to work more liquids and sugars into cakes than before.

Either way, we're very happy to have our modern pound cake and will no doubt be making one soon:

Vanilla Pound Cake from Martha Stewart
Brown Sugar Walnut Pound Cake with Peach Maple Sauce from Martha Stewart
Pound Cake with Blueberries and Lavender Syrup from Epicurious
Ricotta Orange Pound Cake with Strawberries from the Food Network

What's your favorite version of pound cake?

Related: How To Divide Cake Batter Evenly Between Pans

(Image: Martha Stewart)

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