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Pound Cakes - The Perfect Holiday Dessert

Of all the times, now is when you want your pound cake to turn out perfect. Here are some guidelines to help you create a tasty, perfect pound cake for the holidays.

Nashville, Ark. – The pound cake is a classic holiday dessert that makes a great gift. They are easily wrapped, easily transported and remain good for several days. It can also be a welcome addition to any holiday meal celebration.

            Originally, this fine-textured loaf cake was made with one pound each of flour, butter, sugar and eggs, plus a flavoring like vanilla or lemon. A myriad of variations have evolved throughout the years, with additions of leavening agents (baking powder or baking soda) and flavorings such as coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, and other dried fruits.

            Of all the times, now is when you want your pound cake to turn out perfect. Here are some guidelines to help you create a tasty, perfect pound cake for the holidays.

            The flour used in a recipe is essential for a quality cake. Many times a cake recipe will call for cake flour. Cake flour is also called pastry flour and is fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with high starch content. It produces a tender, fine-textured cake with greater volume.

            If you choose to use all-purpose flour, your results may produce a tough rather than tender cake. All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat. It’s great for breads, but may not produce the cake texture you are looking for.

            It is not necessary to sift your flour when measuring. Simply spoon the flour lightly into a measuring cup and level with a flat edge. If you are opening a package of flour, always stir the flour with a fork before measuring. Flour has a tendency to pack during shipping and storage.

            Use the correct pan size for a quality cake. Always use the size called for and fill the pan no more than half full.

            Believe it or not, pan color does make a difference. Shiny metal pans produce a tender, light-brown crust, because heat is reflected away from the cake. If using a glass pan, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees.

            Be sure to grease both the bottom and sides generously with shortening, not butter, margarine or oil, unless your recipe calls for it.

            Once your cake is baked, remove from the oven and test with a wooden toothpick or I like to use a wooden skewer for deep pans. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack. Once cooled completely, you can transfer it to a serving plate.

            Pound cakes and other shortening-type cakes should be cut with a long, thin knife, or with a thin strand of string such as dental floss. This will allow your cake to slice perfectly with few crumbs.

            Pound cakes can be stored at room temperature as long as they do not contain toppings or fillings made with cream, whipped topping or cream cheese. In that case, they will need to be stored in the refrigerator.

            Some common problems you might encounters and how to fix them include:

Bubbles or tunnels:  too many eggs; too little sugar; over mixing; uneven blending of leavening agents.

Soggy cake: Under baked; too much shortening; under mixed; not cooled on cooling rack.

Fallen cake: too much liquid, sugar, fat or leavening; under baked; pan was too small.

Dry: too little liquid, sugar or shortening; baked too long; too much leavening.

Low volume: wrong size cake pan; oven too hot; too much liquid or fat.

Top peaked or cracked: too much flour; oven too hot; over mixing.

            You can never go wrong with pound cake, whether you use it for a gift or as part of your holiday meal!

            If you prefer to leave the baking up to someone else, then come by the Howard County Extension Homemaker Annual Christmas Bake Sale this Friday, December 18 in front of Western Auto. There will be plenty of cakes, cookies, breads and all your holiday baking needs available. Come early for the best selection as many items sell fast! The sale will begin at 8:00 a.m.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a delicious pound cake you may want to try. Dana Newberg, Twilight EHC submitted this recipe for the last Howard County EHC Cookbook.  There are only a few of the cookbooks left and they make great last minute presents. If you would like to purchase one, call the Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

German Chocolate Pound Cake

2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring

2 teaspoons butter flavoring

1 cup buttermilk

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 package German sweet chocolate

            Cream sugar and shortening. Add the eggs, flavorings and buttermilk. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Add German chocolate that has been softened in a double boiler. Blend together well. Bake in a greased and floured tube pan at 300 degrees for 1 ½ hours. Test with a toothpick. Remove from pan and put under a tight fitting cake cover while still hot and cover until cold.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517

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