Pound cake. Just how did this traditional bake come to be named so? Here are my four theories:
From the increment of weight gained per slice consumed.
Where your dog winds up when you are too busy scoffing a slice to remember to close the front gate.
The sum your British mates will offer you for a piece.
The manner in which the neighbourhood children will strike your front door when the freshly baked aroma escapes the kitchen window.
Surprisingly, none of my suggestions come even close. The name originates from the fact that early American pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Simple to remember, straightforward to prepare and superb to eat. I guess what typifies a pound cake is its density. With no rising agents such as bicarbonate of soda or baking powder added, the resulting crumb is butter rich and firm – so satisfying when you just want to eat a decent whack of cake, nothing ‘fly-away’ about it.
Here in the sunburnt country, our version is known as madeira cake. Not quite as hefty, but certainly as well-loved. I grew-up knowing it to be ‘plain cake’. A slice wrapped in waxed paper tucked in my lunch-box was such a treat, while across in Germany, the school children were unwrapping Eischwerkuchen, and the French, quatre-quarts. So you see, we were all eating an interpretation of the same recipe – just happy kids eating cake.
Today, a serious pound cake was on the agenda, so it was the American region that I turned to – Cream Cheese Pound Cake. So generous in quantity, this recipe allows you to make two. Wrap your second in clingwrap, and that’s the baking done for next week as well. Strawberries are ripening beautifully in our northern states right now, so a punnet was economically converted into sauce to spoon across each slice.
To sum up, a pound cake represents stability. A pound cake made with cream cheese represents moisture-rich stability. A cream cheese pound cake bathed in strawberry sauce represents gluttony.
250g butter, softened
250g cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line two loaf tins.
Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, beat until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
Add flour and salt in two batches, beating until just combined.
Pour batter evenly into both tins. Tap tins on bench to release air bubbles. Bake for approximately 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in tins for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack.
Slice and serve with strawberry sauce or just as it is!
For the strawberry sauce, hull and slice a punnet of strawberries and place in a small saucepan with two tablespoons of sugar on a low heat. Let them simmer away slowly, keeping a close eye, and shortly you will have softened fruit in a thick juice. Add a splash of water if you need to and maybe whizz with a stick blender if you like your coulis smooth. Serve warm over thick slices of poundy.
Postscript: So robust is this cake, It could easily be dubbed ‘Slab Cake’ and marketed to our tradies…..