Pound cake

In France, this cake is called Quatre-quarts, meaning “Four Quarters”, because it is supposed to have equal quantities of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. That’s why it’s called pound cake in English, too – a pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. So be warned – this is not health food. The version I make has more like a half-pound of each ingredient, and they’re not really equal – it’s half a pound of flour and sugar, but a little more than half a pound of butter and less of eggs. But it’s the same general idea, and it makes an excellent base for fresh or frozen berries.

How to make pound cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, melt 2 1/2 sticks of butter in the microwave (about two minutes). Add a cup of sugar and mix. Separate four eggs and add the four yolks to the batter and mix. Add two cups of flour and mix. Using an electric hand mixer (or your hands if you feel very energetic), whip the egg whites until they are stiff. You can add two more spoonsful of sugar to help them get stiff if you like. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. Grease a bread pan with butter and pour the batter in, using a spatula to get the last bits out of the bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of lemon zest. Bake about one hour, or until dry in the middle and a little browned around the edges. It should be cracking on the top. Let cool 1/2 hour before eating, cut into slices half an inch thick with strawberry sauce spooned over the top.

If you want half a pound of everything, it would be two sticks of butter and six eggs.

Vegetarian or Vegan?

Pound cake is vegetarian, but it’s not vegan. For a vegan cake, try this excellent chocolate cake recipe.

Will it keep?

Yes, if you wrap it tightly in plastic, it will keep for a day or two, but after that it will be stale. Pound cake should be eaten fresh.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

Leave a comment