Perfect Cream Cheese Pound Cake was inspired by an issue of Cook’s Illustrated article featuring a pound cake recipe plus tips for making the best pound cake. This isn’t actually their recipe, but it’s one of my all time favorite pound cakes, and I made it using Cook’s Illustrated’s advice. Some of their tips include using room temperature ingredients, adding eggs slowly, baking the pound cake at a low temperature and using cake flour instead of all-purpose. The result is a soft, light textured, tight crumbed cake.
Adding Eggs Slowly to Cream Cheese Pound Cake
I feel like the most interesting tip from CI is the one about adding eggs slowly. They say 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! This explains why the author of one of my old favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes might have added the eggs slowly to cookies.
Using Room Temperature Ingredients
The other tips are more well known. Ingredients should be room temperature so that they will blend better and the batter will form small air bubbles, cake flour makes a more tender cake and the low temperature keeps a hard crust from forming too quickly.
Medium Speed to Avoid Sad Streaks
The other tip I’ve learned since is not to cream the ingredients on high speed, but rather medium. Creaming on high speed may overwork some of the gluten and contributes to those little gel like areas or gluey streaks that sometime form. This, I learned from King Arthur. So use medium speed for creaming.
Loaf Pan Size Pound Cake
So have fun making this cake and seeing if the tips work for you. This is a loaf pan size cake. 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
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 3/4 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 6 ounce unsalted butter at room temperature (170 grams)
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened (114 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated or superfine granulated sugar** (300 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt omit if using salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (180 grams)
- Spray an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan with flour-added baking spray. Line pan with parchment paper.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs and extracts and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attached, beat the butter and cream cheese for about five minutes on medium speed until light 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let the cake cool completely before serving.
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!
Score at the thrift store! I secretly love pound cake (you know, since it’s not chocolate). 🙂
Holiday Baker Man
Looks great…… you mentioned making these… How many times did it take to get to your perfeciton?
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.
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.
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!
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.
Retired Pastry Chef
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.
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.
I love all the work you do…saving forever! Thanks
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!
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.
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.
So bleached or unbleached cake flour-which do you like better? I usually use unbleached AP flour.
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.
I believe the phrase is “Ay yi YI!” One entire pound of cream cheese cake also gets my pants-with-elasticated-waist vote! 🙂
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.
Wow you really did score!