Buttermilk Pound Cake

April 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm 99 comments

bundt4wm

Last week, I spent more time in the airport than in school. I was visiting colleges I’d been accepted to, hoping to find the one that spoke to me. I only applied to schools in the east coast, so there was a lot of flying in store.

My dad went with me. We took eight flights in total, and unfortunately, we weren’t lucky when it came to the Russian roulette of flight-booking. Nearly all of our flights were red-eye. I was in the middle seat almost every time, and not always next to my dad. I sat next to a baby – twice. And none of the flights came with food, though that might have been a good thing.

But for me, the worst part about it was the boredom. The amusement of my iPod faded quickly, especially without internet access: no Facebook, no Twitter, no email or WordPress for six hours. I wasn’t able to make calls or send texts. Without my phone, my iPod, and my camera, I didn’t know what to do.

bundt2wm

I remember my impatience on our last flight home. The plane half landed, bouncing gently up and down and still moving fast enough to make my head spin. I had my phone turned on before the plane had come to a slow roll, before our pilot could say “Welcome to Seattle” and remind us to keep our seatbelts on. I texted my best girlfriend E- (and also checked to see if airport wifi went out this far. It didn’t.)

E- wasn’t texting back quickly enough, so I impatiently slapped the cell phone screen a few times. I glanced up to see the man in the aisle seat staring at me. We both laughed a little and I told him, “Sometimes she texts like she’s only got one hand.” He didn’t get it, so I added, “Super slowly.”

His expression told me that he was seeing something completely foreign, and I felt embarrassed. I pushed my cell phone into my pocket and worked on lifting out my bags. I didn’t check my phone again until my dad and I were reunited and standing outside, waiting for the car to pick us up.

bundt3wm

I think it’s safe to say that people my age truly compose the generation of instant gratification. We say we just like to feel connected and make our voices heard, but that isn’t entirely true. We like the power of feeling up to speed, of knowing everything as it happens. When we decide we want something, we can’t get it out of our heads. We want it now, and if we have to wait, our moods sour.

I’m guilty of it. When the bus runs a few minutes off schedule, I turn up my iPod and pout a little, already impatient at my wasted time. When the mood suddenly strikes to watch a certain movie, I immediately drive out to the local Blockbuster, unable to wait for tomorrow. I hate lines, traffic, and even the amount of time it takes for a soda to fall out of the vending machine.

E-, the friend who I texted after my flight, approached me before class a month or two ago. She handed me a slice of buttermilk pound cake in a Tupperware container. It was as simple as pound cake gets, no frills or distractions – no hints of lavender, no chocolate marble swirl, no vanilla bean glaze or berry puree. Not even a dusting of powdered sugar. As the bell rang and we all found our seats, I tried a little piece.

I shouldn’t have been fooled by its humble appearances. This cake was something extraordinary.

bundt5wm

E- told me the secret ingredient was time. She’d discovered that if she waited a day or two before cutting into it, everything about this pound cake improved – the flavor, the texture of the crumb, its dynamics. The slightly sugary crust that formed along the edges, giving it a bit of a crunch? The sweet, gentle tang of buttermilk? All side effects of her patience.

I got the recipe, determined to bake the thing and let it sit. But the trouble started even before the oven preheated. I love the taste of batter, and this batter tasted amazing. After two little dips into it I told myself I had to stop or there wouldn’t be any cake to age. I showed some uncharacteristic restraint and slid the pan into the oven.

An hour later, the house smelled incredible. Like sugar and butter and cream and home. When I opened the oven door, the kitchen filled up with warm, fragrant air. I turned the cake out onto a rack and breathed in the sugary steam rising up from it. I really, really wanted to try it. I thought about taking a little crumb from the bottom where nobody was sure to miss it. But I let the cake cool and then packed it up so I wouldn’t be tempted.

bundt6wm

I didn’t think I could do it, but two days later, I cut the first piece of pound cake. I could feel how richly dense it was as the knife sank through. I broke off a piece the way I had a couple months ago. Completely and utterly worth waiting for.

bundt1wm

Appearance-wise, this pound cake is certainly humble. If you’re like me, the kind of person who judges recipes on the photos and likes baked goods with an impressive air, you might be surprised. This pound cake is everything you’d want in a real pound cake. It’s not a delicate strawberry short cake kind of pound cake – it’s unabashedly dense, heavy in exactly the right way.

If you like buttermilk, the flavor is wonderful. It’s sweet, with just a little bit of tang. By the second day, the pound cake gets a little sugary crust around the bottom. If that doesn’t sound appealing, believe me, it is. It adds just a tiny bit of crunch and is so, so good.

While this recipe is a great way to use up buttermilk, you don’t need it. I almost never buy it, since it’s so easy to make: just put a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough milk to make it all equal 1 cup. Then let it sit for 5-10 minutes while you prep the rest of the recipe.

I don’t know what the cake tasted like right after baking. All I know is that when I finally tried it, it was perfect. My advice is that you make the pound cake, let it cool, then keep it loosely wrapped for a day or so. Even overnight would work. The cake lasts a long time, but it might not stick around long enough for you to find out.

Cruze Farm Buttermilk Pound Cake
Slightly adapted from the New York Times
Makes a 9″ bundt cake

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted room temperature butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3 1⁄2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pan
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cultured buttermilk (see above to make your own)
Juice of 1 lemon, strained

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour a bundt pan.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and drizzle in the sugar, creaming it well. Add the eggs one at a time, after the egg before it has been incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides. On low speed, add a third of the flour mixture until just combined. Then add a third of the buttermilk mixture until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Stir in the lemon juice.

Smooth the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick or thin knife comes out clean, about 75 minutes. The cake should be browned and the edges should be starting to pull away. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.

Printer-Friendly Version – Cruze Farm Buttermilk Pound Cake

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Tall, Soft Biscuits Chocolate-Mint Ice Cream Cake

99 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shellie  |  May 8, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Wonderful cake! My family loved it with fresh strawberries.

    Reply
  • 2. PaintingChef  |  May 10, 2010 at 6:15 am

    I made this pound cake for Mother’s Day this past weekend (the only change I made was that I added the seeds from a vanilla bean) and it was a HUGE hit. Topped it with some fresh strawberries and blueberries but the piece I just had for breakfast this morning was divine all on its own too. You were completely right about this one… WOW!

    Reply
  • 3. Anna  |  May 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Keep on BAKING! Good Luck in your future!

    Reply
  • 4. Halley  |  May 13, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I just made this today- I can’t wait to try it tomorrow!

    Your directions are so easy to follow- thank you :D

    Reply
  • 5. mmarthaac  |  May 13, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    So I have one question I hope you have the time to answer it soon since I can’t wait to try this recipe: how do you make the cream that accompanies this cake?? Thanks.I’m in love with your blog!!

    Reply
    • 6. Elissa  |  May 14, 2010 at 1:22 pm

      mmarthaac – It’s just softly whipped cream. I just poured some heavy whipping cream into my stand mixer and beat it with the whip attachment until soft peaks formed (when you lift out the whisk, the cream should keep its shape mostly.) Then I added some sugar to taste, beat a little longer, then it was done!

  • 7. Becca  |  May 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I just made this cake and loved it! (I couldn’t wait the two days to try it…) Your photos are beautiful; I always love checking your blog.

    Reply
  • 8. Ellen  |  May 31, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Elissa,
    I made this cake a few weeks ago and it bubbled over my pan, onto the heating element and started smoking. I had to take it out of the oven waaaaay under done, and it collapsed. The salvaged part was good enough that my husband asked (demanded actually) another. The second time, I put it on a cookie sheet, and it bubbled over again. But those slightly overcooked hunks of crispy cake were KILLER. It didn’t come out of the pan perfectly, but he ate, and ate and ate. A scant few days after it was gone, he asked for another. He leaves for China on Monday, so I whipped it up today, and it was PERFECT. Still bubbled over, but I was ready for it. I guess my pan is too small, or I haven’t been letting my batter clean up crew lick enough batter. I offered to pour some batter into custard cuts for them to pretend it was pudding, but they thought that was a little much! Anyway, LOVE this. I leave out the lemon and kick up the vanilla a little, we are not into lemony desserts. We are actually into chocolate desserts, which makes this cake VERY special. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  • 9. Ellen  |  May 31, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    uhhhhhhhhhh that would be “custard cups”

    Reply
  • 10. wearsgoo  |  June 1, 2010 at 3:53 am

    i made this btw! huge hit.

    Reply
  • 11. Pam  |  June 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Just found your blog and its lovely. I’d like to try this recipe, however, I’m not a baker and don’t have a bundt pan. How long would it need to cook in a loaf pan?

    Reply
    • 12. Elissa  |  June 9, 2010 at 11:55 am

      Pam – Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you! I’ve honestly got no idea how long it would need to cook, or even if it would cook properly. Since it’s so dense, it needs the hole to bake completely inside. If you want to use the loaf pan, I’d say give it 20-30 minutes and then check frequently until a toothpick comes out clean. Let me know how it turns out and sorry I couldn’t be more helpful :(

  • 13. Pam  |  June 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    No problem! I went out and bought a bundt pan just for this occasion. This cake was awesome and I’ll definitely be making it again and again. thank you.

    Reply
  • [...] recipe is here. I made a few adjustments to give a coffee flavour (I was just in that mood) and I iced the cake [...]

    Reply
  • [...] was planning to make a buttermilk pound cake that I found on the blog 17 & Baking. I had never made any kind of pound cake, bread, or bundt before, so I was pretty nervous. Of [...]

    Reply
  • 16. kayssweetobsessions  |  September 4, 2010 at 12:15 am

    I just love your blog! I look up to you as a baker. You’re great! Keep it up! I recently tried to make this … you can check it out here:

    http://kayssweetobsessions.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/cantaloupe-ice-cream-buttermilk-pound-cake/

    Reply
  • 17. Esther  |  October 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I love how well written your blog is. :) I saw this recipe on your blog a couple days ago, and I’ve been thinking about making this ever since. I already took out my butter and eggs to let them warm up to room temp. While I can’t wait to bake it and eat it, I will be patient, because I’ve already waited two days, what’s one or two more? Thank you so much for this recipe and the wonderful pictures! :D By the way, I’m going to take your pictures and save them on a word document with the recipe so I don’t have to open a browser every time to see your gorgeous pictures. It’s just a heads up! :)

    Love,

    Reply
  • 18. Colleen Cruze  |  November 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Elissa,
    I Love your blog

    I would love to send you some Cruze Farm buttermilk for you try in your baking. The Cruze Farm Buttermilk Pound Cake is my mom’s recipe, and my father is the buttermilk maker.
    Send me your address so I can send you some real churned buttermilk!

    Thanks,
    Colleen Cruze

    Reply
  • 19. Julie  |  November 22, 2010 at 11:03 am

    i’m a little confused on how many waiting days. for example i i baked it on mon. ca i finally eat on wedn. or thurs.???

    Reply
  • 20. Julie  |  November 22, 2010 at 11:23 am

    and can it wait for more than 2 days too??

    Reply
  • 21. Linda  |  November 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    The recipe says 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour. Which means you sift before measuring, correct?

    Reply
    • 22. Elissa  |  December 1, 2010 at 2:01 am

      Linda – Yup, sift it and then use a spoon to gently fill 3 1/2 cups.

  • 23. Linda W.  |  February 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Properly stored, pound cakes can last a surprisingly long time. Carole Walter’s book Great Cakes advises, “Store in an airtight container, in a cool place such as a basement or a porch, but not in the refrigerator or the cake will dry out. . . . This cake will keep for several weeks if properly cared for.”
    Also, loaf pans work, but it still takes over an hour to bake. This is an enormous recipe, so you’d need two pans; for comparison, Walter’s recipes calling for a 9x5x2.75 pan (8 c capacity) call for only 2.5 c flour.

    Reply
  • 24. Brenda  |  February 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Buttermilk in the fridge – it was meant to be. Will put on the calendar for Sunday afternoon.

    Reply
  • 25. Christina  |  March 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Can I use Betty Crocker Pound Cake mix (just because I bought it before I went searching for recipes) and use this “buttermilk…” would the results be similar?

    Reply
    • 26. Elissa  |  March 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Christina – The pound cake from a mix probably won’t taste the same as this particular recipe, but you could use buttermilk instead of water/milk/the suggested liquid and I’m sure it would be good.

  • 27. Christina  |  March 8, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for replying back to me so soon! I have a bake sale tomorrow for a parent’s conference thing at my school and I needed to bring in something, and I had previously bought the pound cake mix. But, I’ll definitely try this recipe for myself next time lol looks so good!

    Reply
  • 28. Lemon Pound Cake | Fumbling Through The Kitchen  |  March 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    [...] Cruze Farm Buttermilk Pound Cake http://17andbaking.com/2010/04/28/buttermilk-pound-cake/ [...]

    Reply
  • 29. Babs  |  August 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Could you please let me know how much in grams, what 3 sticks of butter would be, thank you. Beautiful photos and recipes.

    Reply
    • 30. Elissa  |  August 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      Babs – Of course! A stick of butter is 4oz or 113g, so 3 sticks of butter would be 12oz or 339g.

  • 31. Babs  |  August 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you so much for your reply Elissa. In England a stick of butter is 8oz so I thought something wasn’t quite right!!!!!!
    You have so much talent, I love your photography too, so Good Luck in all you do.

    Reply
  • [...] adapted from 17andbaking. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

    Reply
  • 33. sweetopiagirl  |  January 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    The bundt cake is delicious and I decided to share it with other followers on my blog. My blog is a weightloss blog, but they may want to use your recipes for special occasions!

    Reply
  • 34. Ellen  |  March 28, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Do you have quite a deep bundt pan? Because mine is a 9-inch, but the batter bubbled way over and is lovin’ the bottom of my oven. Just wondering what your dimensions are.

    Reply
  • 35. Iyonna  |  July 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I made this culinary confection this morning. Being the fact I am also a person with very little patience, I knew there was no way I could make that cake and let it sit for a day or two without devouring it. I wanted to make it last night so it could have at least sat overnight, but I was unable to. Well, I could only wait a few hours before I gave in. The cake is delicious. I will be making this regularly. Your pictures are gorgeous. You have done a magnificent job on your blogg my Dear. At such a young age you’re better at this then most. I hope you get a chance to read this and you are doing well. Your family also. I hope in time you’ll be able to return because you will be doing the world a disservice if you don’t :-)

    Reply
  • 36. What would Martha do?  |  July 23, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Yum, this looks so delicious, yet so simple :) I’m not sure if I can wait to taste it, but it sounds like its worth the wait! I’ve just popped mine into the oven & can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    Reply
  • 37. Buttermilk Pound Cake | RobertsonHouse Eats  |  November 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    [...] Recipe: 17 and Baking [...]

    Reply
  • 38. Prachi  |  December 10, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I tried this and loved it.. a very simple yet tasty recipe. Thanks a lot.

    Reply
  • 39. Park  |  March 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve made this cake a few times, it tastes so good! When my sister went on a month and a half trip I baked it the day before she left by the time she ate. It was perfect!
    Thanks so much,
    Sadie

    Reply
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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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