Pound Cake

Beloved with good reason: It’s simple, delicious, goes with anything, and keeps well.
TIME About 1½ hours
MAKES At least 8 servings
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease a loaf pan with butter. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

2 Use an electric mixer to cream the butter in a large bowl until it’s smooth. Add ¾ cup of the sugar and beat until it’s well blended, then add the remaining sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.

3 Stir in the dry ingredients by hand just until the mixture is smooth; don’t mix it too much and don’t use the electric mixer.

4 Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack with a towel. Remove the pan, then turn the cake right side up. Cool before slicing. Serve warm or store at room temperature, wrapped in wax paper, for several days.

  • Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake: Skip the vanilla. After beating in the eggs at the end of Step 2, beat in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, and ¼ cup poppy seeds.

  • Rarely—and only if your pans don’t have a nonstick coating—a cake might not release from the pan right away. If so, give a few firm taps to the bottom or loosen the cake by carefully running a butter knife along the sides of the pan. You can also line the pan with parchment paper after you grease it in Step 1. To remove the cake, just use the overhanging parchment paper as handles and lift.

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