Not a big deal – this is only the best pound cake ever baked. It’s both rich and fluffy, it melts in your mouth, and it has this amazingly satisfying quality of a pound cake: velvety and smooth.
Two tins or one?
By all means bake just one loaf cake using a standard sized tin. I fancied using my mini half-loaf ones, plus I intended to share one little cake with The Weather Man on the weekend and to freeze the other. There’s no better feeling than the knowledge that you have cake in the freezer, ready to eat within a few hours.
It did not happen quite like that. The first of the cakes was gone by midday Saturday, with substantial inroads made into the other loaf by Sunday morning. It was simply too tasty, too luxurious and too delightful with the morning coffee.
Crème fraiche is gorgeous
Crème fraiche is one of my favourite substances in the world (innuendo fully intended). I have never quite gone full debauchery, to get the tub out of the fridge and eat it with a spoon. But it is highly dangerous for me to have the stuff at home because I dollop it onto everything I can: baked potatoes, chilli, tacos, salad, fruit, cake and ice cream.
I sometimes make my own crème fraiche of sorts, which is a lot like the Mexican crema: I mix equal amounts of double and sour cream with a large pinch of salt and a good squeeze of lemon or lime. The concoction then sits on the kitchen worktop for a few hours to thicken, turn tangy and absolutely irresistible. That kind usually goes onto my savoury foods; if you want to try it on desserts, limit the salt to a few grains.
The only thing (substance!) better than that is mascarpone, the Italian crème fraiche. But mascarpone is so dangerously rich (it contains more fat than crème fraiche) that it would feel obscene to dollop it onto all my foods, so I decently manage to only gorge on it in desserts and cakes.
How to make the best pound cake?
The classic pound cake is equal volumes of flour, fat, eggs and sugar, the simplest cake in the world. In this recipe, Melissa Clark’s of NY Times Cooking only reduced on sugar, thankfully with no detriment to the outcome, the measure is approximately one and a half cup of flour, eggs, sugar and the fat in the shape of butter with crème fraiche combined. It works beautifully.
The flour is plain, lightened with addition of cornflour, which is the classic cake flour mix. The eggs, the butter and the crème fraiche should best be at room temperature because we start with beating butter and sugar together.
After the eggs go in the batter invariably curdles which is to be completely ignored – it will become smooth and glossy again once the flour goes in, alternated with the crème fraiche.
Once baked, the cake (or cakes) cools in the tin while you prepare the icing – and it’s luscious and thick made with crème fraiche again. Be generous with vanilla!
Varieties of pound cake flavours
So many that life is too short to taste them all. Lemon zest, orange zest, cocoa powder replacing about two tablespoons of flour, green tea powder used in the same manner, baked in a round tin and layered with strawberries and cream or glazed with caramel. In any of those incarnations it will be perfectly delightful.