|Cream cheese pound cake by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
True confession: I was the kind of kid who went off to college and baked. That's right, the only graduate of the University of Georgia who spent her Friday and Saturday nights creaming butter and sugar together and preheating the oven. I'm still not too sure why I didn't channel this enthusiasm for the never-ending possibilities of the butter-sugar-flour matrix into a food-related career, but the truth is, I spent my extra hours at college baking cakes. I tried all manner of pound cakes and baked them in loaves so that I could distribute them to friends and co-workers. I tried lemon-glazed pound cakes, sour cream pound cakes, and eventually found this recipe for a cream cheese pound cake that has been my best baking friend for two decades. It makes a lovely Bundt cake, but really shines as a loaf cake, with the typical San Andreas Fault line running through the middle. The crust is crispy and shattery, the interior is buttery and tender.
This recipe will yield two loaves or one Bundt cake. I've made four batches of this cake in the past week, to distribute to teachers, friends and family at Christmas.
Cream Cheese Pound Cake
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (neufchatel acceptable), room temperature and divided into three equal pieces
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325. Use baking spray to coat inside of Bundt pan or tube pan or 2 loaf pans.
2. In mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar for several minutes. When fully incorporated and no longer grainy, add eggs and cream cheese alternately. This means two eggs, fully mixed in, piece of cream cheese, fully mixed in, followed by eggs and cream cheese two more times. When batter is creamy and smooth, add, on low speed, flour and pinch salt. Stir in vanilla extract.
3. Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth the top with a spatula. Cake bakes in 325 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.The cake is ready when a narrow bamboo skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool on rack for at least an hour before giving in to the luscious vanilla and butter smell and slicing generous portions for your starving family.