Pound Cake- History and Variations

pound cake image

 Pound cake is a cake which is made by using the four basic ingredients flour, butter, eggs and sugar weighing one pound each. The quantity of ingredients used though is not followed strictly as it may be a little too much for some families to consume. The main idea is to use all four ingredients in equal proportions, or in other words, in the ratio of 1:1:1:1. It need not necessarily be one pound. With time the quantity of the ingredients used began to vary but the name Pound cake was retained. 

History of the cake

The dish originated in northern Europe in the early part of the 16th century.  The ingredients used for making this cake changed drastically over time and people started to use those ingredients which suited their taste and preferences. The bakers now are demanding that the name of the cake be changed as it is no longer relevant.

Variations of the cake

Over a period of time, the recipe of this cake underwent many changes as people in different parts of the world adopted their own distinct style to prepare the cake. This resulted in a huge deviation from the traditional way of making the cake. For example, some people added dry fruits and other flavoring agents to this recipe while others used yeast and baking powder which made the cake a lot more dense. Others substituted the butter with oil resulting in the formation of moist cake. Some of the popular variants of this type of cake are;

  • American style - They follow the old way of making the cake using 1 pound each of all the four major ingredients.
  • Venezuelan style - In this version, a lot of wine is mixed along with a coating of sugar.
  • British style - The British call this cake sponge cake and use all the ingredients in equal proportion but with the addition of vanilla extract.
  • Mexican style - The Mexicans follow the American style in making the pound cake but they also usually add dry fruits like walnuts and raisins.
  • French style - The French have their own way of making this cake and instead of measuring in pounds, they measure the ingredients using quarts. People who speak French residing in other parts of the world though add other things like rum and bananas for getting extra moisture. To lighten the batter some may even skip the yolk.

 Introduction to making pound cake

Pound cake in French is pâte à quatre quarts ( as mentioned above, the cake ingredients were measured in quarts). There is a particular method that must be used in order to create the perfect batter for this cake. The molds should be lined with parchment paper for ease of removal. Once all the ingredients have been added, you must avoid overmixing the batter. Immediately bake and check for doneness using a paring knife. Unmold immediately after removing from oven.

For more information on the subject, and the exact quantity of ingredients used, see our step by step video instructions on how to make pound cake  (members only)



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