|Place of origin||Great Britain|
|Main ingredient(s)||Flour, butter, sugar, and eggs|
|Variations||Addition of flavourings or dried fruits|
Pound cake refers to a type of cake traditionally made with a pound of each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. The traditional recipe makes a cake much larger than most families can consume, and so the quantity is often changed to suit the size of the cake that is desired. As long as the ratio is preserved, the resulting cake will be identical to that using the traditional recipe. Hence, any cake made with a 1:1:1:1 ratio of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar is also called a pound cake. Pound cakes are generally baked in either a loaf pan or a Bundt mold, and served either dusted with powdered sugar, lightly glazed, or sometimes with a coat of icing.
It is believed that the pound cake is a Northern European dish, that dates back to the early 1700s. Over time the ingredients for pound cake changed and everyone started adding different ingredients. For example, Eliza Leslie who wrote the 1851 edition of Direction for Cookery used 10 eggs and beat them as light as possible and mixed them with a pound of flour then adding the juice of two lemons or three large oranges, which changed the flavor and texture of the cake. Everyone had their own way and belief of making a pound cake. For instance, 6 years ago James Villas wrote in the 2008 issue of Saveur that flour would not work in place of all purpose flour because it lacks the strength to support the heavy batter.
There are numerous variations on the traditional pound cake, with certain countries and regions having distinctive styles. These can include the addition of flavouring agents (such as vanilla extract or almond extract) or dried fruit (such as currants or dried cranberries), as well as alterations to the original recipe to change the characteristics of the resulting pound cake. For instance, baking soda or baking powder may be incorporated to induce leavening during baking, resulting in a less dense pound cake. A cooking oil (typically a vegetable oil) is sometimes substituted for some or all of the butter, which is intended to produce a more moist cake. "Sour cream pound cake" is a popular variation in the United States, which involves the substitution of sour cream for some of the butter, which also is intended to produce a more moist cake with a pleasantly tangy flavor. Some of these variations may drastically change the texture and flavor of the pound cake, but the name pound cake is often still used. Some of the variations are described below.
American South style
In France, the pound cake is well-known. The name of the pound cake "quatre-quarts", means four quarters. There are equal weights in each of the four quarters. In tradition, the popular cake of the French region of Brittany, as its name implies, uses the same quantity of the four ingredients, but with no added fruit of any kind. Except, the Caribbeans parts of the world that do speak French traditionally add rum to the ingredients for Christmas Eve or even mashed bananas for extra moisture. In some cases the French might have beaten egg whites instead of whole eggs to lighten the batter. Other variants include adding chocolate or lemon juice for flavour.
In Mexico, the pound cake is called panqué. The basic recipe of Mexican panqué is much like the traditional U.S. recipe. Most common variants are panqué con nueces (pound cake with walnuts) and panqué con pasas (pound cake with raisins).
Venezuelan and Colombian style
Ponqué is the Venezuelan and Colombian version of the pound cake: the term ponqué is itself a Spanish phonetic approximation of pound-cake. The ponqué is essentially a wine-drenched cake with a cream or sugar coating, and it is very popular at birthdays, weddings and other social celebrations.
The German Eischwerkuchen (Ei = egg, schwer = heavy, all ingredients weigh as much as the eggs each) is a recipe very similar to the pound cake.
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