Pound cake refers to a type of cake traditionally made with a pound of each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. Pound cakes are generally baked in either a loaf pan or a Bundt mold, and served either dusted with powdered sugar, lightly glazed, or sometimes with a coat of icing.
It is believed that the pound cake is of northern European origin that dates back to the early 1700s. A recipe for pound cake is in the first American cookbook, American Cookery, which was published in 1796.
Over time the ingredients for pound cake changed. Eliza Leslie, who wrote the 1851 edition of Direction for Cookery, used 10 eggs, beat them as lightly as possible, mixed them with a pound of flour, then added the juice of two lemons or three large oranges. This changed the flavor and texture of the cake. In the 2008 issue of Saveur, James Villas wrote that cake flour would not work in place of all-purpose flour because it lacks the strength to support the heavy batter.
An early variation on this cake replaced some of the flour with cornmeal made from dried corn (maize), which was then called Indian meal. A recipe for Indian pound cake was first published in 1828 by Eliza Leslie and later included in The Indian Meal Book, which was published in London in 1846, when people in Ireland were looking for alternatives to expensive wheat flour.
A traditional American pound cake would contain one pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. This recipe is quite popular in the cuisine of the Southern United States.
1/2 cup butter
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
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