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Perfect Cream Cheese Pound Cake

by on February 28, 2013 · 18 comments

A few weeks ago I stopped by a local thrift store to look around. There were the usual old clothes, used jewelry and old appliances from the ’70s, but the real find was in the book section. Hidden on the bottom shelf was a stack of 12 issues of Cook’s Illustrated from 2000 to about 2011 in perfect condition and priced at 10 cents each. I paid $1.20 for 12 issues and walked out feeling like I’d robbed a bank. Well, sort of. The thrift store ladies assured me that it “was okay” and that I should just “have fun with them” and that we all loved cooking and that the issues really were 10 cents.

perfect cream cheese pound cake


Things got even better when I arrived home and found that one of the articles was about pound cake. After reading the article, I immediately went out and bought the ingredients to make CI’s recipe. In the end, I didn’t care for it (it happens), but I appreciated the  great tips explaining why low temperature is used, the best types of flour for pound cake and most of all, why it’s good to add eggs very, very, slowly. I’d heard different explanations for that, but in this issue they suggested  that adding the eggs slowly coats the other ingredients in a film of protein that’s thinner than it would be if you just dumped the eggs in. The thin film of protein allows the batter to rise easier, much as a thin balloon might might offer less resistance than a thick balloon. Interesting! And it explains why the author of one of my old favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes might have added the eggs slowly to cookies.

Anyhow, I set off to find the best pound cake using the techniques I’d learned from CI — cake flour, very cool butter, slow temperature, long creaming, slow addition of eggs, etc. and of all the ones I made, this one was voted the favorite. The texture was tight crumbed and very light and it had a lot of flavor from the cream cheese. Because I’d been making multiple cakes, I kept the pound cakes loaf size. For a tube cake size pound cake, just double this. If you make it, let me know what you think. I still have a few more to try and re-try, including Epicurious’s famous “Elvis’s Favorite” which I made years ago but kind of forgot about. I’ll have to put it up against this one.

Perfect Cream Cheese Pound Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Dense but light textured, tight crumb pound cake made with cream cheese
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cool room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (10.5 oz) granulated or superfine granulated sugar**
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon salt, omit if using salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (6.5 oz) or White Lily flour
Instructions
  1. Spray an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan with flour-added baking spray. Line pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs and extracts and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attached, beat the butter and cream cheese for about five minutes or until very light and creamy. Scrape bowl occasionally. With the mixer running, add the sugar very slowly – this should take another 5 minutes. Add the salt and scrape bowl again.
  4. Reduce mixer speed slightly and very gradually add the egg/extract mixture a few spoonfuls at a time. This process should take about 2 minutes. Once the eggs are added, continue beating for one minute.
  5. Remove bowl from stand mixer and sift the flour about 1/2 cup at a time into the batter, stirring with a heavy duty scraper until well blended. Make sure all the flour is incorporated by scraping batter up from the bottom.
  6. Put the batter in the pan, spread it evenly and bake for about 85 minutes at 325 F. Cake should form a dome and crack. Let it cool for about 20 to 30 minutes in the pan, then carefully loosen and remove from pan by inverting, peeling off parchment, and inverting again.
  7. Let the cake cool completely before serving.
Notes
I used superfine sugar which I’d made by putting granulated sugar in a food processor.

 

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Published on February 28, 2013

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy February 28, 2013 at 9:18 am

Wow you really did score!

gloria February 28, 2013 at 9:36 am

Anything made with cream cheese wins my vote. Plus, almond extract is one of my favorites. Only thing I don’t have in my pantry is cake flour. Do you remember how to substitute white for cake? I know it is using less or scooping it different or something.
Regarding your CI books: I went to Half Price Books and found them for a friend. I think they were 25 cents or something-not as good a deal as you found.

Kate February 28, 2013 at 10:25 am

I believe the phrase is “Ay yi YI!” One entire pound of cream cheese cake also gets my pants-with-elasticated-waist vote! :)

Anna February 28, 2013 at 11:16 am

Amy, I know! And Gloria, 25 cents is still a great deal.
Kate, don’t worry. There’s only 4 oz of cream cheese in here ;).

About cake flour, I would hold off on making pound cake until you can get some cake flour. In my opinion the lower protein and softer wheat makes a big difference. I actually used White Lily for this one, so my cake was very tender, but I think Swans Down would give great results. As for the substitute for cake flour, it’s 1 3/4 cups AP plus 1/4 cup cornstarch. But for pound cake, you should wait and use the real thing. I’ve made tons of pound cakes with AP flour and the cake flour versions are always better….at least in my experience. There’s also a difference in bleached vs. unbleached all-purpose.

gloria February 28, 2013 at 11:57 am

So bleached or unbleached cake flour-which do you like better? I usually use unbleached AP flour.
Thanks.

Anna February 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Gloria, I was going to add more info on bleached vs. unbleached all-purpose, but your best bet is just to Google it. You’ll find a lot more info than I can give, and people have pretty strong opinions. But cake flour is what you need for this recipe. Most cake flour out there (Swans Down, White Lily) is bleached, but King Arthur makes an unbleached cake flour. I’m not sure how widely distributed it is, but they sell it at our grocery store. I’m pretty loyal to Swans Down and White Lily for cake, though.

Sue February 28, 2013 at 2:47 pm

That’ a great find! I hope you enjoy your magazines.
I’m glad you came up with a pound cake recipe you like. I’m not a pound cake fan so I’m not going to try it but hope people who like it try and report back to you. It’s fun to know when things work and why.

Jan Harris February 28, 2013 at 5:54 pm

While looking at this recipe, I found a link to a lemon yogurt pound cake you had posted in 08. I’m going to try that one I think. I don’t like to use cake flour. Looks great tho!

Stephanie February 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I love all the work you do…saving forever! Thanks

Darlene February 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really appreciate all the fabulous hints. Pound cake is my brother-in-laws favorite. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never bought or baked with cake flour, but I will definitely try it now.

Retired Pastry Chef February 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm

In all of my pound cake testing, I found the ultimate pound cake to be Elvis Presley’s favorite. It has a tight fine texture unlike any other I made over the years. This cream cheese pound cake does look very good, but I will wait to try it until you give us the result of your testing the Elvis Presley recipe:-) Thank you for your great recipes.
PS Boston Pastry Chef Joanne Chang in her book, “Flour,” uses this ratio for cake flour: 3/4 c. all purpose flour + 2TBSP. cornstarch.

Anna February 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Okay, now I really have to re-make the Elvis cake! Thanks for the motivation. I know I tried it in the past as part of a marble cake, but this time I want to make it as written.

Laura February 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I have a question unrelated to this post. If you use non-stick foil to line pans, in recipes that don’t ask you to, do you change the cooking temperature at all? Thanks!

Carol March 1, 2013 at 7:48 am

I love when I find food magazines at thrift stores or yard sales. I have been making a banana bread recipe since the first year I was married (over 20 years) and it says to add the eggs one at a time. I never knew why, but it does make a great banana bread. My husband never wants me to make any other recipe for banana bread.

Anna March 1, 2013 at 7:52 am

Hi Laura,
That’s a good question! I use it all the time and have never changed the temperature. The only time I bother with temperature changes is if I’m using glass (which is practically never) or a black pan. For instance, my Bundt pan is black so when a recipe says to bake at 350F I always use 325F.

Carol, most cake recipes just say one egg at a time. That’s probably fine for most recipes since most use a chemical leavening of some type (baking powder), but not all pound cakes call for baking powder, so I guess the careful addition of the eggs helps.

Holiday Baker Man March 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Looks great…… you mentioned making these… How many times did it take to get to your perfeciton?

Katrina March 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Score at the thrift store! I secretly love pound cake (you know, since it’s not chocolate). :)

Michelle March 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hi Anna,
I am really glad you are trying out cream cheese pound cake recipes. I have made several over the years and been disappointed. One was from Southern Living and it was just okay while another was from the whimsical bakehouse cookbook and featured chocolate chips as well. If I remember correctly, the outside was browning and getting crusty while the middle was still raw. I gave up after that so I will be looking forward to trying yours and the elvis one too!
I have been using that egg trick since the first time you posted the recipe. I think it makes a huge difference to the texture! Thank you!

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