Friday, June 10, 2011

Foodie Fridays: Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I'm so bad at remembering these Foodie Fridays posts that even I'm embarrassed. To try and make up for my benign neglect, I'm going to give you my favorite pound cake recipe. I made it recently to celebrate my friend L's birthday, and it is an excellent (and almost fool-proof) cake and is perfect for the novice baker. I'm always a little embarrassed when she raves over it, because it is pretty easy.

The recipe is from the addictive SmittenKitchen website. The only changes I made were to get rid of the almond extract (I'm lucky when I have vanilla extract in the kitchen, so almond is out of the question) and halving the recipe. The resulting pound cake is a somewhat craggy loaf of cake that perfumes the kitchen with buttery sweetness. While Deb recommends brushing the cake with simple syrup if you are planning on making the cake ahead of time, I've never done this and the cake is always moist enough.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake (with very minor adaptations from
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese*, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped white chocolate**
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour a loaf pan. You can also butter the pan and line it with parchment paper.

2. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, at least five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla, then the flour and salt all at once. Beat just until incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean (approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes in my temperamental oven. If your oven works better than mine, start checking the cake after 50 minutes. Remove it when a toothpick comes out clean).

4. Place the pan on a cake rack and cool for 20 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

*Deb's recipe notes that Philadelphia brand cream cheese is the preferred brand to use in baking because of the lower water content. I've made this cake with both Philadelphia brand and generic cream cheese, and I've never had a problem with it.

**The white chocolate is a nice addition, but it has a tendency to cause the bottom of the cake to get too brown (or caramelize, as L's husband kindly says) in spots when I use it. Smaller shards tossed with a bit of flour should fix this issue.