Loaf cakes most likely come to mind when picturing a pound cake, but modern loaf pans are too small to contain all of the batter produced by the traditional recipe. This is a BIG cake, perfect for slicing up all week or serving a crowd. It also freezes beautifully. Note: I add a bit of salt to all older recipes unless they call for “washed” butter.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter or oil and flour a 10- to 12-cup tube pan.
- Sift together the flour and salt.
- Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add in the teaspoon of chosen flavoring.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer and a large bowl), beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or so. Add the sugar, ¼ c (50 g) at a time, beating for one minute between each addition. Once all of the sugar is in, beat for two minutes until significantly paler in color, light-textured, and fluffy. Stop often to scrape the bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds between each egg and scraping the bowl often. Once all of the eggs are in, continue to beat on medium for one to two minutes. The batter may appear curdled, but the addition of the flour will correct this.
- Add the flour and salt in three parts, mixing on the lowest speed. Stop the mixer when most of the dry ingredients have incorporated and finish mixing the batter using a spatula.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Once full, tap the pan twice with a serious gentleness on the counter to pop any air bubbles, then smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes, until the cake begins pulling away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back clean or with just one or two straggling crumbs.
- Let cool in the pan set on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake to cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired. Serve plain or with cream and fruit.
- The cake keeps well stored at room temperature for just shy of a week. Once it starts to go stale, toast individual slices and spread with honey or jam.
- If you’re really feeling adventurous, do as they did centuries ago: take a length of cheesecloth large enough to wrap around the entire cake, and thoroughly moisten (but not saturate to dripping) with brandy. Wrap the liquored cloth tightly around it, then wrap in plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container in a dark, cool spot. Do not refrigerate. The cake will keep well for a good few weeks. Remoisten the cheesecloth as necessary if it starts to dry out.
Jessica Reed is a writer, baker, artist, and historian obsessed with the history and culture of cake. She is the author of The Baker’s Appendix (Clarkson Potter, 2017) and just left the North East Coast after 15 years for the North West Coast. She is happy to still be baking at sea level.