I was in a baking rut today and needed some help getting out of it. This cold oven pound cake came to the rescue! I'm not sure if it was the almond crust and extract or the fact I just hadn't made a cold oven pound cake in a while, but it was intriguing enough to lure me in. It ended up being one a very tasty and soft pound cake.
What's a Cold Oven Pound Cake?
A cold oven pound cake is a cake you bake without preheating the oven. In theory, going into a cold oven gives the baking powder more time to work its magic, helping give the cake a soft and fluffy texture. In addition to the soft texture, it is believed that the extra moisture circulating in a cold oven reacts with the starch to help create a thicker crust. This seems to be accurate. All of my cold oven pound cakes have come out with a thick, brown, crumbly crust.
Recipes for cold oven pound cake typically include flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and flavorings such as vanilla. This one's a little different. In addition to the butter, it calls for some margarine for extra soft pound cake. I've seen other versions where instead of margarine, the recipe calls for a half cup of oil or possibly shortening. These are all added to enhance the texture, whereas the full cup of butter provides the flavor. I also used almond extract instead of vanilla.
Margarine in Pound Cake
Margarine gets a bad rap these days, and for good reason. Some brands taste terrible and are full of water so they don't work well in baking. But some brands do taste okay and will work in recipes, depending on what it is you are making. I was going for an extra soft texture, so I decided to try a newer spread called Olivio. It actually tastes good and is very, very, soft. And no, this is not a product partnership of any kind. I just like trying new things and think the texture of the Olivio is a little different. If you can't find it, you can use Country Crock or Earth Balance or any brand that has about 90 to 100 calories per tablespoon. Stick or tub form should work.
Soft Wheat Flour
In addition to the margarine, I used White Lily, a Southern flour made with very soft wheat. But don't worry if you can't find White Lily because other all-purpose flours should be soft enough. And unbleached is just fine too. I just used bleached for extra softness, as it does tend to lend itself to that. And definitely weigh if you have a scale. I used about 380 grams which would be 3 lightly spooned or sifted cups.
Cold Oven Pound Cake
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (228 grams)
- ½ cup soft margarine, such as Olivio (114 grams)
- 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons almond or vanilla extract
- 3 cups soft bleached flour (380 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
- Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the bottom.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the softened butter, margarine and sugar for about 5 minutes.
- Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk them together. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually drizzle the eggs into the bowl. Beat in the extract.
- With the mixer on lowest speed, add the flour and the milk alternately, stopping every so often to scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan pan.
- Put the pan in the cold oven, close door, set timer for 350 degrees F.
- Bake for about 90 minutes. Be sure to check after about 70 minutes in case your oven runs hotter than mine, but mine did take 90 minutes.
- It should be pretty easy to tell when this is done. The outside will be brown and crusty and the cake will be fragrant. If you want to be extra sure, stick a meat thermometer in and make sure the crumb is over 205 degrees F.
- Loosen the hot cake by sliding a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool in the tube pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully invert so that the almonds are on the top.