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The perfect pound cake takes focus and a watchful eye, which garner a tender, fine-crumbed dessert with a velvety texture. See the following slides for chef Scott Peacock's classic recipe and step-by-step instructions making the ultimate pound cake.
Starting with cold butter and cream cheese prevents these important ingredients from becoming too warm during the mixing. "Beat just until the butter begins to soften, appears shiny, and is malleable," says Scott.
"Diligent, precise measuring is important for keeping the balance of ingredients," says Scott. "Evenly scoop, and level with a straight edge." Taking the time to measure with care sets you on the right track to a perfect cake.
"Creaming, the process of blending the butter and sugar together to incorporate air, is the most fundamental step in pound-cake making," says Scott. "This process is key to the cake's volume -- it is the leavening."Midway through the creaming step, it is very important to scrape the mixture down."
To make sure that you don't overbeat the eggs, Scott suggests staying focused. "Only mix about 20 to 30 seconds after each egg," he says. "The vanilla goes in with the last egg."
The ideal pound cake gets its volume from diligent and patient mixing. "Light, pale, and ribbony -- this is what the batter should look like once all the eggs are blended," says Scott.
Taking the extra step to sift the cake flour is highly recommended. "Cake flour is a soft-wheat flour that has a fine silky texture. It makes the pound cake lighter and helps provide a more delicate crumb," says Scott.
To gradually add flour, control the flow with a simple kitchen staple. "A loosely folded sheet of waxed paper is an easy and efficient way to add the flour in a slow and continuous fashion," says Scott. "This trick also keeps the flour from scattering as it's added to the mixer."
Carefully fold the batter with a spatula for a finishing touch. "Incorporating the last bit of flour by hand, with quick and gentle turns with a rubber spatula, helps prevent overworking or deflating the carefully mixed batter," says Scott.
Properly preparing your cake pan is another important step to a perfect pound cake. "Generously butter the pan with softened butter then dust lightly with four," says Scott. "Rap it on the edge of the sink to dislodge any excess flour."
The last step before baking can help ensure all your efforts for a dense, delicious cake are preserved. "Avoid losing volume by gently turning the batter into the pans," says Scott. "Once full, drop the pan on the counter to dislodge any stubborn air pockets that can cause tunneling. Place in the middle of a cold oven set at 300 degrees. Don't open the oven door while baking, it can cause the cakes to fall."
After cooling, enjoy your pound cake that has a personality all its own. "Slight variations can be expected -- splits and cracks are part of its charm," says Scott.