- 1 pound unsalted butter, (2 cups / 4 sticks)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 9 large eggs
- 1 pound cake flour (3 3/4 - 4 cups)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup full-fat buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
Preheat your oven to 325 and thoroughly grease a large bundt cake pan or several smaller ones. Loaf pans can be lined with a sheet of parchment paper for easy removal.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, weigh/measure the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl down occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes, until very fluffy and lightened in color.
Continue beating while you add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each, and scraping the bowl down occasionally to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients. Don't rush this step and add the eggs all at once, or they won't emulsify correctly.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt (I like to sift twice). Combine the buttermilk and extracts in a liquid measuring cup.
With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Don't over-mix at this point, and use a spatula to gently fold any dry bits of flour remaining into the batter.
Spoon the batter into your prepared pan/s and smooth out the top. Bake at 325 until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it and the crust is golden brown and slightly cracked. One large bundt cake may take about 65-70 minutes to bake, while several smaller loaf or bundt pans may take 40-45 minutes or so.
Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, carefully remove the pan, and let cool completely before slicing. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days, or freeze indefinitely.
I live in Denver, CO, so all of my baked goods are tested at high altitude. Don't let this deter you from trying my recipes, though, even if you don't live in the mountains. For this recipe, you might just try increasing the baking powder from 2 to 3 teaspoons to see how it works at sea level. Also, be sure to read this post and this post for all my baking tips and FAQs.
Your cold dairy ingredients (butter, eggs and buttermilk) need to be at room temperature before mixing this cake. Set them out several hours before you plan on baking so they can warm up.
Cake flour is best for pound cake; with a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, it yields a very tender cake crumb. If you don't have cake flour, you can substitute a mixture of all-purpose flour and cornstarch for excellent results. For this recipe, weigh out 1 pound of all-purpose flour, then remove 6 tablespoons of flour. Add 6 tablespoons of corn starch. Sift together the flour and cornstarch several times to incorporate thoroughly.
Baking powder and buttermilk are not traditional ingredients in the original pound cake as it was invented, but they greatly assist in the rise and moisture of the cake, which our modern palate expects from a cake, especially one that we've spent so much time mixing.
While I used both vanilla and almond extracts, you can use absolutely any flavor of extract you would like. Vanilla, almond, coconut, lemon, orange and rum are all great choices. A tablespoon of pure vanilla bean paste would be luxurious in this cake. Note that the 2 teaspoons of almond extract I used do not give the cake an overwhelming almond flavor. If you like a more pronounced almond flavor (which I do), increase the amount to 3-4 teaspoons.
Chopped dried fruit or nuts can also be folded into the batter with the flour mixture, if you like.
Do you want to try experimenting even more? Then think of the buttermilk as a "place-holder" for other ingredients like pureed fruit compote (peach or apple come to mind) or pumpkin puree. Try substituting a fruit compote for the buttermilk, and add some spices to your dry ingredients for a fabulous new flavor.
When filling your bundt pan or loaf pans, they should be about 2/3 - 3/4 full. If you have too much batter for one pan, just fill several pans for a variety of cakes. This recipe makes a large bundt cake, or one medium bundt plus one loaf cake, or three loaf cakes.
Pound cake freezes extremely well, so leftovers can be wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container to enjoy later.