Why is it called pound cake?
The name ‘pound cake’ originates from the fool-proof recipe using a weight of one pound of flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Created in the 18th century in Europe this simple list of ingredients all used at the same weight meant that the cake was achievable for anyone to create, producing a huge four pound cake which could feed multiple families.
Gradually over time the ingredients have been altered to create a lighter and moister cake however the name has remained. Classically pound cake would contain only the four ingredients of flour, butter, sugar and eggs however the cake now generally uses a raising agent for volume and some form of flavoring such as lemon, almond, chocolate or vanilla.
What is the difference between pound cake and vanilla cake?
Pound cake and vanilla sponge cake are similar as they use many of the same ingredients but there are key differences. Traditional pound cakes are made with flour, eggs, sugar and butter while sponge cakes are made with just flour, eggs and sugar.
A classic sponge cake uses whipped egg whites to aerate the batter and create a light texture whereas pound cakes are known for being denser. Pound cakes are believed to be the first butter cakes and then led to lighter versions as ingredients became more available.
Why is my pound cake heavy?
There are a few possible causes for a pound cake turning out dense and heavier than desired. Traditional pound cake is supposed to be a little denser than most modern cakes but not as far as heavy or dry. The first cause is that the butter and sugar were not creamed enough, the ingredients should be whisked until fluffy which shows that air is incorporated.
Trapped air in the cake batter expands during baking, producing a light rise and fluffy texture. The second cause for a heavy pound cake is the opposite of the first, that the butter and sugar were over-creamed. If excess air is trapped during creaming then this will deflate when baked and create a dense, heavy cake.
The best timing for creaming butter and sugar is 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy to avoid a heavy pound cake. If the cake is too dry then it may have been over-baked, staying in the oven longer than needed and removing the moisture which creates a light texture.
Is pound cake unhealthy?
Pound cake like most cakes is not healthy due to the high fat and sugar content but can be enjoyed occasionally as part of a balanced diet. Our vanilla pound cake recipe has been edited from the historical original to be lighter and less dense so it is certainly more healthy than if the ingredients were one pound each.
For those who are health conscious or have dietary needs the standard ingredients of pound cake can be substituted for healthier alternatives, for example butter can be replaced with margarine, eggs replaced with egg whites, buttermilk replaced with Greek yogurt and sugar replaced with liquid stevia.