Southern Simplicity: The Cream Cheese Pound Cake
When stuck-in-a-dessert rut, this cake never fails. It’s not a backup, but a go-to; when you want something delicious, but not complicated; when you want to sit back and relax. This is a dessert that can be paired with any meal at any time.
The “Cream Cheese Pound Cake” is my pride and joy among my desserts. It was the first cake I learned how to make, and my most requested when it comes to baking for any engagement.
I started baking in high school, when my dad, the baker of the family, decided it was time to share great grandma’s cookbook. It was like discovering a lost treasure. It was packed with every southern meal that you can fathom, from rattlesnake soup (what?!) to traditional pecan pie (okay, that’s more like it). For my purposes, we just focused on the dessert section.
Over the span of a few months, I went from grasshopper to sensei, being able to now bake this cake without even opening the cookbook. How does this cake top every other cake though? It's plain and has no layers. It doesn’t even have icing! Well my dear grasshopper, this is how.
This cake is a statement cake.
It speaks to taste and baking skills. Sometimes we need a dessert that can just be enjoyed for its simplicity because when it comes down to it, a cake is nothing without the breading. Underneath that plain exterior is a lightness, fluffiness, and sweet-intoxicating taste that will blow your mind. It literally melts in your mouth. The best part is the cookie-like crust! This cake is so rich since it's made completely from scratch. If you were to lift this cake, your hand might buckle at the weight. That’s how you know it’s good.
Let’s talk about the essentials.
Making the cake is actually very simple. The ingredients are not mind-boggling and most of them you probably have in your house: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, salt, and cream cheese. If I don’t include prep-time, then mixing time is only around 30 minutes or so. The longest time is actually the baking part. Depending on your oven, it may take 90 minutes or even 2 hours to bake. A cake tester is a necessity here. Due to time, this isn’t a last-minute cake. You must have wiggle room to prep, mix, bake, cool, and then spice up if you want.
Add a scoop.
Warm-up your slice in the microwave for about 15 seconds and then add your favorite scoop of ice cream. You will be in sweet heaven. I recommend trying it with real vanilla bean ice cream. Sprinkle some espresso coffee grinds on top, if you want to get fancy.
Brew a cup of coffee.
This cake is the perfect compliment. Take a slice of cake with a cup of coffee to sit around the table or crawl up under a blanket. It even goes well with tea. I suggest a robust black tea that is rich and bold in flavor or spice, like Masala Chai Tea. Add some sweet cream to transform it into a latte and add thickness if you’d like. Personally, I like cutting a slice for breakfast with my coffee.
Splash some color.
You can pair this cake with any fruit you have at home if you’re in the mood to be fancy. Sometimes, I might even use the cake batter to make strawberry shortcakes.
Not only can you add fruit, but you can really tweak the recipe to your personal preferences. If you want to make a lemon pound cake for some sweet and sour contrast, get your lemon juice and sprinkle fresh lemon zest across the top. If you like nuts, add some crunch by chopping up pecans to add to the batter as the last step before baking. There really is a basin of room for experimenting.
From the flexibility, simplicity, and complementary nature of this cake, there are so many reasons this cake is number one in my bake-book. I love this cake because ultimately it can stand alone in taste and time.
Am I sharing the full recipe? …Not entirely. Maybe one day, but for now…you get the idea.
P.S I have to add that this cake is not for everyday eating—spare your hips. It’s also not for those who do a vegan or gluten-free diet. I am experimenting with a less diabetic-inducing version.