Original pound cake recipes called for a pound each of flour, sugar, milk and eggs. Modern recipes use less weighty ratios, especially when you incorporate sour cream to lighten the crumb. With the correct technique, making a sour cream pound cake proves fairly straightforward.
Effects of Sour Cream
Generally used in place of milk in a pound cake, the addition of sour cream to the batter increases the finished product's moisture. Additionally, the acidity of the sour cream adds tanginess to create a more balanced flavor profile. The ingredient also activates the baking soda, creating greater air in the batter, for a lighter crumb.
Generally cooked in an oven set between 300 and 325 degrees Fahrenheit, sour cream pound cakes can be baked in a Bundt pan, tube pan or two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans, greased and floured. A standard 3-cups-flour pound cake recipe requires 6 parts cake flour, 2 parts softened butter, 5 parts egg, 5 parts granulated sugar and 2 parts sour cream. Follow basic cake batter guidelines: Sift the flour with baking soda and salt, cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla extract, and then stir in the flour mixture and sour cream in several additions. Because of the low oven temperature, the cake needs 60 to 75 minutes to bake and another 10 to 15 minutes in the pan before you invert it onto a cooling rack.
Importance of Quality Ingredients
The quality of the ingredients and how you prepare them plays a significant role in the success of a pound cake. While you may be tempted to use all-purpose flour, the substitution results in a coarser-crumb cake, rather than the tender and fine texture you want in a pound cake. Sifting the flour with the baking soda and salt ensures an even distribution of the ingredients and an even cake. Bring all of your ingredients to room temperature before preparing the batter to ensure maximum cake volume.
Top It Off
While a quick dusting of confectioner's sugar finishes off a sour cream pound cake for serving, you can bring in additional flavor with a topping or glaze. Serve fresh mixed berries and whipped cream over sliced cake for a new take on strawberry shortcake. Pour heavy cream heated to just below boiling over bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in equal parts and stir until combined to make a ganache. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly before drizzling over slices of cake, or cool it longer and spread it over the top of a whole cake. Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts. Make a quick glaze of confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract and milk to pour over the pound cake before slicing. Alternatively, use freshly squeezed lemon juice in place of the milk and lemon or orange extract instead of vanilla. Enhance the citrus flavor by adding lemon or orange zest to the batter before baking.
- Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft; The Culinary Institute of America
- The Kitchn: How to Make Classic Sour Cream Pound Cake From Scratch
- Fine Cooking: Sour Cream Pound Cake
- USA Today Travel Experience Weekend: Recipe -- Sour Cream Pound Cake
Kathryn Roberts has worked in the culinary industry for nearly a decade in various roles, including pastry chef and bakery manager. After studying at the Culinary Institute of America, she earned her BFA from Goddard College and is pursing an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.