Vanilla Pound Cake

I’ve made pound cake three times in the past four days. What started as a want to make a simple pound cake soon turned into a search for the perfect pound cake recipe, and in the end, all of that work was worth it. It resulted in a moist cake full of vanilla flavor and the sweet, crackly crust I was hoping for. Success.

Vanilla Pound Cake (click to print)
from Cooks Illustrated
makes one 9 by 5-inch loaf

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
3 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups cake flour

Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and place into the bowl of a standing mixer then let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to soften slightly (butter should reach no more than 60 degrees). Using a fork, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup until combined then let stand at room temperature until ready to use.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325°F. Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray, then dust with flour.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt at medium-high speed until shiny, smooth, and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium. With the mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar, (this should take about 60 seconds). Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is fluffy and almost white in color, 5 to 8 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once. With the mixer running at medium speed, gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream (this should take 60-90 seconds). Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Beat the mixture at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides.

In three additions, sift the flour over the butter-egg mixture. After each addition, fold gently with a rubber spatula until combined. Scrape along the bottom of the bowl to ensure that the batter is homogenous.

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 70 to 80 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, then turn the cake right side up. Cool to room temperature.

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16 responses

  1. Wow! A full cup of butter?! Well, now that I think about it, I guess most quick loaves call for a cup of oil… Looks delicious! I just purchased some vanilla beans and would like to try to incorporate beans in a recipe. Do you think I should reduce the amount of extract if I add beans from one pod? Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Vanilla beans sound like the perfect addition to this cake. I’d try using one vanilla bean along with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Good luck! :) Tell me how it turns out!

    • Cake flour makes for a lighter, less dense cake than all-purpose flour and can be easily made from scratch. I use this method whenever I have none on hand.

      Cake Flour
      makes 1 cup

      1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
      2 tablespoons cornstarch

      Sift the flour and cornstarch together. Repeat sifting several times until ingredients are well-combined.

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